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Joel Harrison — Infinite Possibility (2013)

 Joel Harrison — Infinite Possibility (2013)

Joel Harrison — Infinite Possibility

The official logo by B.T. Amundssen´s 7th Tais Awards & Harvest Prize 2014 for nominated artists
Location: Brooklyn, New York  USA Flag
Album release: June 18, 2013
Record Label: Sunnyside Communicat
Duration:     53:05
CD Quality — 16 bit / 44.1 khz
Tracks:
01. As We Gather All Around Her     10:06
02. Dockery Farm     8:57    
03. Remember     5:51
04. The Overwhelming Infinity Of Possibility     9:27
05. Highway     8:52    
06. Blue Lake Morning     9:42
All songs composed by Joel Harrison
Personnel:
♠  Michel Gentile — flute
♠  Ned Rothenberg — saxophone, clarinet, flute
♠  Ben Kono — saxophone, oboe, english horn, flute
♠  Donny McCaslin — tenor saxophone
♠  Ben Wendel — tenor saxophone
♠  Rob Scheps — tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute
♠  Andy Laster — baritone saxophone
♠  Seneca Black — trumpet
♠  Taylor Haskins — trumpet
♠  Dave Smith — trumpet
♠  Justin Mullen — trumpet
♠  Alan Ferber — trombone
♠  Jacob Garchik — trombone
♠  Curtis Fowlkes — trombone
♠  Ben Stapp — tuba
♠  Joseph Daley — tuba, euphonium
♠  Joel Harrison — guitar electric
♠  Daniel Kelly — piano, keyboards
♠  Kermit Driscoll — bass
♠  James Shipp — vibes, marimba, hand percussions
♠  Rob Garcia — drums
♠  Everett Bradley — vocals
♠  Liala Biali — vocals
♠  Jc Sanford — conductor

♦  The most intriguing artists are those that continually seek new challenges. They grow and adapt. Guitarist/composer Joel Harrison is a musician who is never complacent, continually learning, yet always true to his own vision. Infinite Possibility is Harrison's latest journey, compositions written for a 19 piece jazz orchestra. Like all of Harrison’s output, the music is at once contemporary and timeless.
♦  As a guitarist and composer, Harrison has covered a lot of ground. He has written and arranged for small and mid–size jazz groups, African dance bands. classical ensembles and various amalgamations of instrumentalists from all over the world. He finds inspiration everywhere.
♦  Harrison never studied conventional big band writing and only briefly played with a large ensemble while in college. He began to notice a trend as a number of his peers began their own explorations with expanded ensembles and felt a call. As he puts it, "I began to feel that if I called myself a jazz composer I had to tackle the big band medium." With the support of a Meet the Composer Commissioning grant (now New Music USA), the work began.
♦  Naturally, Harrison had already been a fan of the work of Duke Ellington and Gil Evans but he didn’t look to big band forebears for direct inspiration. He just started writing, learning from his mistakes. Harrison admitted that this was a very humbling process: “It isn’t twice as hard as writing for a mid–size group. It is five times as hard.”
♦  Harrison grew increasingly fascinated with the orchestral possibilities, all the various textures, and he made a point to include instruments not frequently heard in jazz big bands, like the French horn, English horn and vibraphone. Much of the music is through–composed and not just a setting for soloists (though there are tremendous solo contributions by the likes of saxophonist Donny McCaslin, trumpeter Taylor Haskins and woodwind player Ned Rothenberg). Strains of roots music, the blues and modern classical all worked their way into these lushly arranged compositions.
The recording begins with “As We Gather All Around Her,” which is based on an Appalachian hymn Harrison had heard Stanley Brothers do, and features a startling vocal from Everett Bradley. The haunting then rollicking “Dockery Farm” is inspired by Harrison’s trips to the Mississippi plantation where Charlie Patton and Howlin’ Wolf learned the blues. There is a wonderful moment in the middle where the three trombones and tuba freely improvise with Harrison, playful and mournful all at once. ♦  “Remember” is both tender and barbed, a tone poem with no improvisation, featuring vocalist Liala Biali.
♦  “The Overwhelming Infinity of Possibility” is a bright, hopeful piece that begins with muted energy and builds to a raucous density, inspired by the works of György Ligeti and electric Miles Davis. The declaratory “Highway” is an inspiring, rich piece based on gospel and road song. The program concludes with “Blue Lake Morning,” a shimmering, warm piece that flowers with Harrison’s blend of classical harmony and roots songcraft.
♦  Always seeking an opportunity to challenge himself, Harrison has taken on the task of writing and arranging original music for a large ensemble. The results presented on Infinite Possibility are astoundingly assured, inspired and original.
Website: http://joelharrison.com/
MySpace: https://myspace.com/joelharrisonguitar
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/joelharrisongtr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joelharrisongtr
Label: http://sunnysidezone.com/album/infinite-possibility
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joelharrisongtr
Press: Matt Merewitz / Fully Altered Media - matt@fullyaltered.com
Agent: Reggie Marshall / Mars Jazz — reggie@marsjazz.com

Review by Thom JurekScore: ****½
♦  The title of composer and guitarist Joel Harrison's Infinite Possibility is an apt one. On the one level, in his first exercise writing for an unconventional jazz big band — this one includes French horn, English horn, vibraphone, and marimba — the tonal, textural, and harmonic options are almost endless. On the other, when presented with such a bounty, making the right choices can be intimidating or frustrating. This six-part suite, conducted by JC Sanford, makes use of numerous American musical forms, though they all end up as jazz. "As We Gather All Around Her," with vocals by Everett Bradley, comes from an Appalachian hymn Harrison heard the Stanley Brothers play. It uses country gospel as a way of creating a foundation for various tonal palettes to develop by brass and woodwinds; the interplay is specific and bright before it scales itself back. Along the way there are terrific solos by saxophonist Donny McCaslin and pianist Daniel Kelly. "Dockery Farms" commences with a sparse frame, very deliberate in its use of gospel and blues motifs. Before long, however, by way of Harrison using electric slide guitar, it begins to wail, stomping as his six-string goes right at the choppy vamp–driven horns. Another high point in the track is the conversation by muted brass instruments and Curtis Fowlkes' trombone solo. The freight train of dissonance and dynamic in "The Overwhelming Infinity of Possibility" illustrates precisely the numerous directions Harrison allowed his muse to direct him, through blues, 20th century classical music, and Miles Davis from Gil Evans through his second quintet through Bitches Brew. If this reads like it doesn't or shouldn't work, fine — but it does marvelously, and is the most compelling track here; the dialogue between brass and woodwind sections is knotty, defiant, quizzical, and bold. While "Highway" doesn't exactly swing after its tender opening section, it implies it through its use of the blues idiom. In its quieter moments the extrapolation harmonies between Harrison and the horns are elegant, beautiful. The cut also features fine solos by trombonist Alan Ferber and saxophonist Rob Scheps. Closer "Blue Lake Morning" with its four distinct phases — and a moving solo by McCaslin — is breathtaking in its range of musical diversity. ♦♦  Infinite Possibility may a personal milestone for Harrison — an ambition realized. But for jazz listeners, it is a stellar exercise in musical imagination and vision.
Credits:
♦♦  Laila Biali  Vocals
Seneca Black  Trumpet
Everett Bradley  Vocals
Joseph Daley  Euphonium, Tuba
Kermit Driscoll  Bass (Acoustic), Bass (Electric)
Christopher Drukker  Graphic Design, Photography
♦♦  Liberty Ellman  Mastering, Mixing
Alan Ferber  Trombone
Curtis Fowlkes  Trombone
Jacob Garchik  Trombone
Rob Garcia  Drums
♦♦  Michel Gentile  Flute
Joel Harrison  Guitar (Electric), Liner Notes
Joel Harrison 19  Primary Artist
Taylor Haskins  Trumpet
Daniel Kelly  Keyboards, Piano
Ben Kono  Flute, Horn (English), Oboe, Sax (Alto), Sax (Soprano)
Andy Laster  Sax (Baritone)
Mike Marciano  Editing, Engineer
♦♦  Donny McCaslin  Flute, Sax (Tenor)
The Mullens  Composer
Justin Mullens  Trumpet
Rothenberg  Composer
♦♦  Ned Rothenberg  B-Flat Clarinet, Clarinet (Bass), Flute, Sax (Alto)
JC Sanford  Conductor
♦♦  Rob Scheps  B–Flat Clarinet, Flute, Sax (Tenor)
James Shipp  Hand Percussion, Marimba
Ben Stapp  Tuba
♦♦  Ben Wendel  Sax (Tenor)
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Joel Harrison — Infinite Possibility (2013)

 

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