Stefon Harris + Blackout – Sonic Creed, Vol. II: Life Signs

Review Stefon Harris + Blackout – Sonic Creed, Vol. II: Life Signs

A vibraphone. It feels like the vibrating metal discs haven't been used in jazz since Lionel Hampton. Stefon Harris takes a different view and has brought his xylophone with him. Surrounded by a variable backing band called Blackout, he plays a series of original compositions and a piece by Stevie Wonder.

Harris describes the music on the album as "the sound of right now". That seems bold. Of course the mix is contemporary, but the pieces often sound like "solid US jazz school with tradition". There are braver musicians in the genre and more innovative ones. Harris, on the other hand, comes across as a traditionalist who knows his craft. And that's not because of the vibraphone.

The music itself may be fresh, but it doesn't seem fundamentally new. It is lively and colourful, but also somehow familiar and therefore predictable. The time now is the complete opposite.

However, the contradiction of the statement perhaps suggested by the marketing does not detract from the album. It is a formidably recorded piece of jazz that can refresh the day as a fine companion. And that, too, is a quality that suits this genre well.

So it's best to listen and judge for yourself. (Thomas Semmler, HighResMac)

Stefon Harris, vibraphone, marimba
Elena Pinderhughes, flute
Felix Peikli, clarinet, bass clarinet
Casey Benjamin, alto saxophone
Mike Moreno, guitar
James Francies, piano
Keith Brown, piano, keyboards
Joshua Crumbly, bass
Burniss Travis, bass
Terreon Gully, drums
Pedrito Martinez, percussion
Regina Carter, violin
Daniel Frankhuizen, cello
James Burton, trombone

Stefon Harris + Blackout – Sonic Creed, Vol. II: Life Signs

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