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Album Review

Electric guitarist Joel Harrison is somewhat of a pioneer in following paths that are different than most so-called fusion guitarists. From hard-edged and exploratory progressive sounds to country amalgams and ethnic infusions, Harrison has been one to keep an ear pinned to the tracks for, as you never know what direction he'll approach from. In the case of Harbor, a nautical theme is present, but coming from the deck of a very large freighter hauling precious metals. Second guitarist Nguyên Lê galvanizes the steely tone while longtime bandmate alto saxophonist David Binney adds the ballast and balance that keep the ship moving forward. This collection has a signature sound of Harrison's concept, de-emphasizing solos and concentrating on a shared ownership, and the music has a suspended-in-time feeling while remaining fully contemporary. "Hudson Shining" (sans Lê) expresses Harrison's ethos perfectly, as he and Binney shout hopeful outcries as a springboard for extended melody lines that resonate infinitely. Revealing the musicians at their most animated, "End Time" is a bit frenetic, very involved in the 7/8 time frame, and demarcates a point where contemporary classical composer Olivier Messiaen meets Pete Cosey and Reggie Lucas from the Miles Davis fusion bands. Harbor is not without its languid and introspective moments; the title track with the echoing guitars of Harrison and Lê combines the sexiness of Marvin Gaye with the thoughtfulness of Bill Evans. A tribute to Atlantic City, "American Babylon" is moody and dour, with Lê contrastingly on fire, and fully demonstrates the partnership of the differently able guitarists. The extraordinary percussionist Jamey Haddad also appears on the six tracks that include Lê, while Satoshi Takeishi and the rising-star bassist Stephan Crump appear on another two apiece. Binney is a treat throughout, asserting his alto as a true original voice in modern jazz. If guitar hero mavens were wise, they would be well served to keep abreast of the future activities of Harrison, a visionary and unique player in contemporary jazz. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 27 July 1957 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

In 1999 guitarist/composer/singer/arranger Joel Harrison relocated to New York City from the West Coast, where the multi-talented musician spent years leading various groups and ensembles, as well as freelancing as a much in-demand session player around the San Francisco area. His electrifying blend of creative jazz, modern classical, and ethnic fusion has spawned seven critically lauded albums (3+3=7, Range of Motion, Transience, Free Country, So Long 2nd Street, Harrison on Harrison, Harbor, Passing...
Full bio
Harbor, Joel Harrison
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  • £6.32
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 24 April 2007

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