Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

311

Donald Harrison: The Survivor

John Barron By

Sign in to view read count
Donald Harrison has earned premiere status in the jazz world as an inventive improviser with a highly personalized voice. His command of the alto saxophone is second to none and his contributions as a genre-hopping composer are compelling to discerning and casual listeners alike. On The Survivor, recorded for the German Nagel Hayer label, the Art Blakey alumnus takes a brazen leap into the world of modern funk with the support of venerable piano giant Mulgrew Miller and open-minded youngsters Christian Scott—Harrison's nephew—on trumpet, Luques Curtis on bass and John Lamkin on drums, with pianist Zaccai Curtis, Luques' brother, replacing Miller on "Oriental Folk Song.

The saxophonist composes with an intentional hip-hop flair to fuel his fluid, warm-toned approach. While perhaps intended for crossover appeal to a mass audience, the music on The Survivor is highly progressive and artistically driven. Whereas incessant funk beats and repetitive harmonic vamps seem to constrict the creative flow of so many smooth jazz performers, with Harrison it seems the opposite is true. The simplistic nature of the title track, "Twerk it and "The Hook Up, for example, allow the New Orleans native the opportunity to explore a seemingly unlimited amount of melodic possibilities. While venturing great distances from the inherent tonal frame of the simplified grooves he manages, in a sly, uncanny way, to assure the listener that a soulful harmonic resolution is just around the corner.

Scott, featured prominently throughout the disc, is a powerful trumpeter who displays a level of sophistication and maturity beyond his years—eighteen at the time of this recording. He displays a full tone with a consistent spark of energy, and his straightforward weaving lines on "Cool Breeze and "Oriental Folk Song are reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard at his hard-bop best.

The two non-funk tunes, "Oriental Folk Song and "Sincerely Yours, are, from a purely compositional aspect, the most adventurous of Harrison's contributions to the session. The latter is a lush ballad revealing the overwhelming influence of John Coltrane on the saxophonist's musical development.

While The Survivor may not appeal to purists hoping for a return to the neo-conservative days of the Harrison-Blanchard quintet, it is a bold statement for Harrison who continues to look forward and push his music into fresh, unexplored territory.


Track Listing: The Survivor; Twerk it; Summertime; Cool Breeze; The Hook Up; Oriental Folk Song; Nouveau Swing; Sincerely Yours; Caravan (Who is the Funky Drummer).

Personnel: Donald Harrison: alto sax; Christian Scott: trumpet; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Zaccai Curtis: piano (6); Luques Curtis: bass; John Lamkin: drums.

Title: The Survivor | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Nagel Heyer Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Contra la indecision CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Vessel in Orbit CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Pulse/Quartet CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Storyteller" CD/LP/Track Review Storyteller
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "Harmony of Difference" CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Open Book" CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Tangofied III" CD/LP/Track Review Tangofied III
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 13, 2017