Monday, December 21, 2015

Lafayette Harris, Jr. - Bend To The Light

Pianist Lafayette Harris, Jr. and his trio of bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Willie Jones, III have a new recording "Bend To The Light" (Airmen Records) which includes a couple of new originals, revisiting some of his previously recorded compositions and choice interpretations of standards along with a Herbie Nichols composition and a Luther Vandross tune.

What stands out immediately on the opening title rack is not simply Harris' fluency and technical command but the lyricism as well as drive of his playing and the superb backing he gets from Plaxico (whose own solo here displays his strong touch) and Jones. Vandross' Take You Out" is a lovely mid-tempo groover followed by "We In The House," the lengthiest performance here with a light march feel in part generated from Jones' bass figure (who again solos here). On this, Harris plays with a lighter touch while still sounding formidably. On Herbie Nichols' "12 Bars" Harris is excellent on a performance incorporating some of Nichols' stride roots. His own solo alludes to "Take the A Train." More stunning playing is heard on the original "Achern," while Harris' take on "Old Devil Moon," is lovely. "Blues On The Edge" is a spirited uptempo blues.

Jazzmiea Horn scats on a vocal version of the title track before the recording closes with a short version of "We In The House," on which Jones is more prominent. The music on "Bend To The Light" is marvelous with Harris and his trio playing at a high level throughout.

Received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared in the September-October 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 362). Here he performs a Charlie Parker classic.

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