Clarinetist Darryl Harper has five previous recordings to his credit (all released on HipNOTIC) and has had precious little coverage at All About Jazz. A longtime member of violinist Regina Carter's band, Harper has been chipping away at the edges of hard bop and post-bop since his 2001 recording, The Onus: Recurring Dream. At first blush, Harper might appear as a free jazz or avant-garde advocate in the mold of Jimmy Giuffre but, while those elements are present, Harper has a much more traditional approach to his music that lands him squarely in a fertile and searching mainstream. This is easily accessible music that still asks for attention to detail.
The Edenfred Files was conceived while Harper was in residence at Edenfred, and consisted of his writing and arranging for both piano-less trio and piano-based quartet formats. The blues waltz "Blues for Jerry" and Julius Hemphill's earthy "Kansas City Line" portray the trio format, one that is both spare and orchestral; Harper's playing is precise and inspired...and it swings, too. On bassist Matthew Parrish's "Sirens Calling," Harper accomplishes a Middle-eastern "St. Thomas" that is both angular and positively temperamental.
In the standard quartet, Harper is equally effective. "Spindleshanks" is a jaunty joust with pianist Kevin Harris, who confronts Harper note-for-note. Harris presents a solo rendering of John Coltrane's "After The Rain" as a classical piano recital, something that could have been composed by an opium-encouraged Debussy or Ravel. Impressionistic, and amorphous, "After The Rain" proves a logical palette cleanser at the end of a very satisfying clarinet outing.
Blues For Jerry; Sirens Calling; Spindleshanks; Walking With Old Souls;
Kansas City Blues; Edenfred; After The Rain.
Darryl Harper: clarinet; Kevin Harris: piano; Matthew Parrish: bass;
Harry :Butch” Reed: drums.
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