9 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On vibraphone and marimba, New Jersey's Stefon Harris darts like an athlete, chasing ideas, harnessing a formidable technique in the service of melodic surprise. His third outing with Blackout, a savvy unit with an intriguing take on acoustic and electric jazz, is intended as its title suggests—an expression of a “sonic creed” inherited from the great masters of the music. Thus Harris, along with several compelling originals, offers gems from the iconic Blue Note years, with a distinct tilt toward associates of Art Blakey: Bobby Timmons’ “Dat Dere,” Horace Silver’s “The Cape Verdean Blues,” Wayne Shorter’s “Go,” and Bobby Hutcherson’s “Now” all receive creative renderings, alive with complex and agile rhythm. The powerful beat of drummer Terreon Gully, the subtle colorations of pianist/keyboardist James Francies and guitarist Mike Moreno, the clutch bass clarinet parts of Felix Peikli on Harris’ lovely “Chasin’ Kendall,” the accompanying marimba of Joseph Doubleday on the striking duet finale, “Gone Too Soon”: These elements and more add up to a refreshing and beautiful artistic statement.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On vibraphone and marimba, New Jersey's Stefon Harris darts like an athlete, chasing ideas, harnessing a formidable technique in the service of melodic surprise. His third outing with Blackout, a savvy unit with an intriguing take on acoustic and electric jazz, is intended as its title suggests—an expression of a “sonic creed” inherited from the great masters of the music. Thus Harris, along with several compelling originals, offers gems from the iconic Blue Note years, with a distinct tilt toward associates of Art Blakey: Bobby Timmons’ “Dat Dere,” Horace Silver’s “The Cape Verdean Blues,” Wayne Shorter’s “Go,” and Bobby Hutcherson’s “Now” all receive creative renderings, alive with complex and agile rhythm. The powerful beat of drummer Terreon Gully, the subtle colorations of pianist/keyboardist James Francies and guitarist Mike Moreno, the clutch bass clarinet parts of Felix Peikli on Harris’ lovely “Chasin’ Kendall,” the accompanying marimba of Joseph Doubleday on the striking duet finale, “Gone Too Soon”: These elements and more add up to a refreshing and beautiful artistic statement.

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About Stefon Harris & Blackout

Vibraphonist/percussionist Stefon Harris originally planned to pursue his musical ambitions as a member of the New York Philharmonic, but his first exposure to the music of Charlie Parker convinced him to play jazz instead. Emerging during the mid-'90s on sessions led by Steve Turre, Charlie Hunter, and others, he made his solo debut in 1998 with the Blue Note release A Cloud of Red Dust. The Grammy-nominated Black Action Figure followed a year later. A collaboration with labelmate, pianist Jacky Terrasson, was a defining moment for Harris. Their week-long showcase at the Village Vanguard in summer 2001 was a success, encouraging both artists to work together in the studio. Kindred, a set of standards woven around a few original tracks, was issued in 2001.

The Grand Unification Theory pushed Harris' boundaries yet again. The 12-piece ensemble jazz suite appeared in 2003, eventually earning Harris the prestigious Martin E. Segal Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center. Dates with the Kenny Barron Quintet coincided with the spring 2004 release of Evolution. African Tarantella appeared in 2006, followed three years later by Urbanus in 2009.

~ Jason Ankeny

HOMETOWN
Albany, NY
GENRE
Jazz
BORN
March 23, 1973

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