Joel Harrison – Urban Myths

Urban Myths

By Michael Jackson, DownBeat

High Note release generally prove reliably mainstream; this one has more bite. The placid cover pic of the Hudson and predictable title don’t prepare for the energy released by this crack nonet.

The opener starts blithely, as do several of the heads, then Daniel Kelly’s organ sound infiltrates the bottom end. Before you know it, Christian Howes’ bravura violin is scything in followed by David Binney’s first of several fabulous solos, goaded by choppy rock drumming from Jordan Person.

The theme of “125 And Lenox” is a tad bland, but like several tracks, acts as a bait for building the groove. Harrison officially “shreds” with a tourniquet guitar solo. “Mood Rodeo” in surreptitious 5/4, might be a closer manifesto title than “urban Myths.” Harrison, reverb-laden, mimics Howes’ violin, steeped in blues. A dropout heralds Binney, who blows smoke rings over skipping drums until that devilish organ whirl gets under again, then his alto darts off on a liquid foray.

Obviously , “Last Waltz For Queva” is about someone, namely Queva Lutz, who ran the 55 Bar in New York’s West Village and gave Harrison shelter so he could create his storm. James Brown or perhaps snatches of the Buddy Rich band, meets Thelonius Monk on Harrison’s penetrating recast of “Chaser,” where Akinmusire gets a taste before a now Greg Osby-like Binney. Contrapuntal elements intelligently utilizing the ensemble create a beautiful moire at the end of “Between.” The title cut employs second line beats, avant-bop lines and succulent violin, before the album concludes with piledriving punkjazz.

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