Steve Harris

Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
After all these decades, the classic quintet lineup endures. Graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as a classical pianist in 2002, Stapleton based his own group on two luminaries of the same college, bassist Paula Gardiner and drummer Elliott Bennett, adding trumpeter Jonny Bruce, a 2006 graduate. Saxophonist is Ben Waghorn, who’s been heard with Kasabian and Goldfrapp as well as in his own quartet. Stapleton often seems to be taking a back seat, but what holds this complex, disciplined music together is his ability as a composer, creating extended pieces that can move from bombast to lyricism with real structure and purpose.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Pianist and bassist hadn’t worked together since the end of Jarrett’s American Quartet in 1976, but after meeting in 2007 during the making of a film about Haden, they spent four days recording in Jarrett’s home studio. ‘It has a very dry sound and we didn’t want to have the recording sound like anything but what we were hearing while we played. So it is direct and straightforward,’ writes Jarrett. A far cry from the glossy, groomed perfection of so many ECM issues, it is intimate, immediate and communicative.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Composer, pianist, leader and educator Django Bates has done just about everything, but in his 50th year he’s filled a gap by offering this tribute to his earliest inspiration, Charlie Parker. The idea, though, dates back to 2005, the 50th anniversary of Parker’s death, when Bates arranged tunes associated with Bird for a celebration event in Copenhagen. On this trio album he doesn’t play a bop style but lets loose his own piano pyrotechnics in ‘Scrapple From The Apple’ and other be-bop anthems. A final piece of contemplative musing creates its own space from a fragment of ‘Ah-Leu-Cha’, and if this is the least frenetic track, it’s also one of the most successful.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
After a brilliant start as a boy classical pianist, the teenage Cowley played in a Blues Brothers tribute band, then plunged into electronic pop with the Brand New Heavies and Zero 7 and his own group Fragile State. Returning to the piano, he formed the trio which recorded Displaced in 2006 and Loud Louder Stop in 2008. For their third album the trio are still together, or to be more accurate, more together than ever. They play as one.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
No matter how deeply it’s been mined before, the Blue Note vault is still a rich source of reissue gold. In what amounts to a relaunch of the XRCD audiophile format, Audio Wave has begun with a clutch of soul jazz classics. Soul Station has Mobley’s old Jazz Messengers boss Art Blakey on drums, with Paul Chambers on bass and bluesy pianist Wynton Kelly. This seemingly carefree album marked a turning-point for the light-toned tenor player, as 1961 would see him briefly and not very happily joining Miles Davis.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Revisiting favourite old songs, the late great composer’s singer daughter has the luxury of Phil Ramone as producer, as well as some special guest stars. Stevie Wonder does a fabulous harmonica obbligato on ‘Blame It On The Sun’, while Brian Wilson and Take 6 vocalize amazingly behind her on ‘God Only Knows’. One of the best realisations, if not a jazzy one, is the opener ‘These Days’, with the unmistakeable liquid voice and soft guitar of composer Jackson Browne. This isn’t to be confused with the title track, the Billy Joel song, more wistful than ironic in Mancini’s hands.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Tia Fuller has toured and played to huge audiences as a sax soloist in Beyoncé’s all-female band, but she’s her own boss here for her second Mack Avenue album. This time she’s joined by sister Shamie Royston on piano, but as on 2007’s Healing Space it’s Miriam Sullivan on bass and Beyoncé bandmate Kim Thompson on drums, with Sean Jones guesting on trumpet. The only non-original is her Cannonball-influenced ‘Can’t Get Started’, a ballad feature also for her other guests, vibraphonist Warren Wolf and bassist Christian McBride, who injects incomparable swing into two other numbers. A feast, here, of great and often joyous playing.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
For his third ECM project as leader, the celebrated drummer put together a new group, but it’s a group of old friends. Bassist Pino Palladino is a collaborator of many years, while pianist Jason Rebello played with Katché in Sting’s band. Norwegian saxophonist Tore Brunberg, often sounding like a soft-focus Garbarek, is a long-term ECM labelmate. Guests are guitarist Jacob Young and trumpeter Kami Lyle, who adds lyrics to ‘Stay With You’ with her impossibly warbly yet captivating vocal.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010  |  0 comments
After long pursuit of their separate careers, the three Heath Brothers first played under that name in 1975. Percy Heath, the MJQ’s revered bass player, died in 2005, and so the younger brothers, saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath, dedicated Endurance to his memory. With the youthful Jeb Patton on piano and David Wong on bass they get things moving on the restless chords of ‘Changes’. Later, an evocative ‘Autumn In New York’ seems to waltz gently in 4/4, and then Jimmy is beautifully reflective in ‘Ballad From Leadership Suite’, which he wrote for the inauguration of a Howard University president in 1996.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Between 1961 and 1971, Britain’s best-loved poet became Britain’s most hated jazz critic, at least by other critics. In his Telegraph reviews, Philip Larkin was to Coltrane, Ornette and Miles what Brian Sewell is to Hirst, Emin and Serota. Filling the first two discs here is a treasury of Armstrong, Bechet, Condon and so on, the 78s Larkin loved, if not necessarily the artists’ best works. The third and fourth CDs collate items he reviewed and actually liked, mainly reissues.

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