Donald Harrison feat. Mulgrew Miller and Christian Scott
Donald Harrison - alto sax
Christian Scott - trumpet
Mulgrew Miller - piano
Zaccai Curtis - piano (on 6)
Luques Curtis - bass
John Lamkin - drums
1 The Survivor
2 Twerk It
4 Cool Breeze
5 The Hook Up
6 Oriental Folk Song
7 Nouveau Swing
8 Sincerely Yours
9 Caravan (Who Is The Funky Drummer)
Recorded on November 22, 2004 at The Studio, New York, by Jon Rosenberg.
Donald Harrison is a well-established neo-bop sax player. He has brought a lot of freshness to the jazz scene and The Survivor continues along those lines with a lot of funky contemporary flair. Whether it is the title track or the cool funky beats behind ‘Twerk It’ and ‘The Hook Up’ Donald Harrison manages to again create new space with songs that have appeal to both straight ahead and contemporary jazz listeners. He also modernizes classic numbers like ‘Summertime’ and ‘Caravan’. The band is a quintet with the amazing Mulgrew Miller on piano, the gifted youngster Christian Scott on trumpet, Luques Curtis on bass and John Lamkin on drums. Pianist Zaccai Curtis, the brother of Luques, joins the band for one track as well.
God bless Mulgrew Miller for being Harrison’s partner with equal rights on this recording. The pianist's penetrating, august, in-the-moment melodic architecture shines bright on each track. He goads and guides Harrison to new heights, as the alto saxophonist turns phrases with verve, quietly dazzle with pointillism, and wistfully suspend animation. The fine tone of Christian Scott – the 18 year old nephew of Donald Harrison and meanwhile an exclusive Concord Records recording artist – on trumpet rounds off this fabulous session.
Purists will no doubt have ruffled feathers over hearing Harrison, better-known in the post bop context of Terence Blanchard and Art Blakey, dabbling with hip hop rhythms, funk and soul grooves. Instead, The Survivor is about a different kind of swing; not the traditional style that Harrison fans have come to expect over the course of his career, but rather a more contemporary version that is no less compelling. The title track mines a deep hip hop groove, with Harrison's behind-the-beat playing making him an interesting counterbalance to Greg Osby, the other contemporary alto player making great waves on his instrument. But Harrison's retention of a mostly acoustic context prevents things from getting completely out of hand or losing its organic nature, making this record just another link in a long chain that shows Harrison to be an artist whose reach is broader than, perhaps, some people might like.
»Donald always strives for that little extra.« Jazzwise
»...one of the most musicologically literate players to come along in ages.« The New York Times
»Everywhere Harrison lilts his fire-bright wit and fertile facility.« Down Beat