November 24, 2006
Finding his place in the jazz lineage (Siddhartha Mitter, November 24, 2006, Boston Globe)
To properly unpack the layers of musical and cultural meaning in â€˜â€˜African Tarantella,â€™â€™ the latest album from the brilliant vibraphonist and bandleader Stefon Harris, it would require a longer article than these columns permit.
So hereâ€™s a summary. A tarantella is an Italian dance whose frenzied execution was once believed to cure a tarantulaâ€™s bite â€” hence, supposedly, the name. Indeed, the albumâ€™s cover photo shows Harris bent forward to display a hairy arachnid perched on his head. â€˜â€˜African Tarantellaâ€™â€™ is Harrisâ€™s attempt to express the dual European and African paternity of jazz â€” and with it, in some ways, of American culture itself.
If that sounds abstract, have no fear. â€˜â€˜African Tarantella,â€™â€™ which Harris brings this weekend to the Regattabar, is wholly accessible, a beautiful program of movements from suites by Duke Ellington and Harris himself, interpreted on the album by a thoughtfully constructed ensemble that includes, among other instruments, viola, cello, trombone, and flute.
For Harris, 33, who only found jazz in college but in just over a decade has become the top vibraphonist and one of the most original bandleaders of his generation, â€˜â€˜Tarantellaâ€™â€™ is a triumph of lyricism that marks, to use a dreaded term, an arrival at a certain maturity.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 24, 2006 9:18 AM
-AUDIO: Stephon Harris on Raphsody
-VIDIO: Stefon Harris & Blackout (You Tube)
-Stefon Harris (Marian McPartland Jazz Piano, NPR)
-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Stefon Harris Does the Vibes (The Connection, 2/15/02)
-Archives: Stephon Harris (NPR)
-Stefon Harris (Blue Note Records)
-Stefon Harris (Wikipedia)
-Stefon Harris Dukes it out at Jazz Bakery: Jazz, metal and wildlife (GREG BURK, October 25, 2006, LA Weekly)
-Stefon Harris taps faith roots for jazz (William R. Wood, 10/01/06, kalamazoogazette.com)
-Strikingly good vibes from Stefon Harris (Don Heckman, October 30, 2006, LA Times)