Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Further Adventures of the Majestic Clarinet
What keeps this blend of various ensembles and musical ideas together is the exceptional musicianship and direction of Harper. Currently on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University, the Philadelphia, PA-native has worked onstage with pianist Orrin Evans, Tim Warfield, Uri Caine and Roscoe Mitchell and spent 2 years with violinist Regina Carter who appears here on the classically inspired 2-part "Dances For Outcasts" with I-Jen Fang (marimba).
The longest single cut on the CD, "Anthem For Unity", is a lovely duet for Harper and composer/acoustic guitarist Freddie Bryant. The music has a pleasing blend of Brazilian and North American folk music influence plus a touch of the melodic style of Ralph Towner.
The 4 duets with Ms. Sung are distinguished by their strong melodic content, exciting interactions and emotional strength. The pianist's "Prelude and Fugue-Like" is a multi-sectioned tour-de-force while Carla Bley's "Postures" (first recorded in 1961 by Jimmy Giuffre) blends jazz, blues, ragtime and "free" tempi. "Playtime" is just that, a playful musical romp composed by Ayn Inserto for pianist Korderis and Harper, who performed the piece at the New England Conservatory (where Harper did his Doctoral studies.)
The 3-part "Woodwind Quintet", played by Harper, Michael Rabinowitz (bassoon), John Clark (French horn), the composer's sister Marina (oboe) and daughter Ceora (flute), brings the program to close with a flourish. Composer Jaffe, who's known for his work as a jazz composer and leader of large ensembles, gives the musicians much to work with. Part 1, "Bach's Corral", opens on a serious but soon moves into playful territory. The short second Movement, "Panderinho", is a sweet melody for flute partnered with the oboe and, occasionally, the bassoon with the French horn and clarinet playing rhythm. The piece hustles to its close, the composer's compositional tongue firmly in his musical teeth. The longest movement, "Penthex", has a more formal feel but also turns towards jazz with its closing section where each one one of the instruments steps out for a short solo.
"The Need's Got To Be So Deep" says it all for those of us who cannot get enough jazz, cannot hear enough grooves or woody clarinets or singers moaning, saxophones keening or bassists throbbing beneath the ensemble (here's a link to Mr. Komunyakaa's stunning poem that gave Xavier Davis the title for his composition and Harper the title of his album.) Darryl Harper continues to grow in so many different facets of his career, giving the avid listener much to chew on with his latest recording. This is a gem - pay attention and you'll be rewarded many times over. For more information, go to www.darrylharperjazz.com.