Picks and Pans Review: Tributes
Beleaguered '70s-style spouses aren't the only ones who need some space. Trombonists need it too. Not space to avoid denting a front-row patron with the slide, but sonic space in which to assert the instrument's unique girth and gait. When Harris blows a gleaming, romantic note, it ascends like an inflatable Mighty Mouse over a Thanksgiving Day parade. In telling the effusive stories that are his solos, he happily brays, blusters and swaggers. On last year's solid Black Bone LP, he went all blubber-lipped for a few bars and sounded like a jalopy at a demolition derby. While Harris' range and personality as a soloist have been amply demonstrated on discs by David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Sun Ra and other avant beacons, this record gives the best idea yet of how loose and joyous his music sounds in person. Harris, a 32-year-old New Yorker, writes uncramped, unhurried compositions paved with vamping rhythm that give him—not to mention his band's six other players—plenty of elbow room. A spirited work song like 24 Days an Hour or the African dance High Life pushes the soloist aurally to the center of a large tribal circle formed by the supporting ensemble. Butter-toned French horn player Vincent Chancey makes an excellent foil for the broad, sculptural statements of Harris and for the crackling cornetist Olu Dara, who follows the trombone's example and handcrafts each phrase, stripping away anything superfluous. Most original is the ballad D.A.S.H. (for Diane), a lush melody coaxed along by the flirting patter of Don Moye's bongos. As he states the theme and expounds on it, Harris suggests a sunrise, slowly spreading warmth and splendor. (O.T.C., 420 E. 86th St., N.Y., N.Y. 10028)
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