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 ‘‘African Tarantella,’’ the latest album from the brilliant vibraphonist and bandleader Stefon Harris, it would require a longer article than these columns permit.

So here’s a summary. A tarantella is an Italian dance whose frenzied execution was once believed to cure a tarantula’s bite — hence, supposedly, the name. Indeed, the album’s cover photo shows Harris bent forward to display a hairy arachnid perched on his head. ‘‘African Tarantella’’ is Harris’s attempt to express the dual European and African paternity of jazz — and with it, in some ways, of American culture itself.

If that sounds abstract, have no fear. ‘‘African Tarantella,’’ 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, ‘‘Tarantella’’ is a triumph of lyricism that marks, to use a dreaded term, an arrival at a certain maturity.

-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,
-Strikingly good vibes from Stefon Harris (Don Heckman, October 30, 2006, LA Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 24, 2006 9:18 AM
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