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Harvie S and Eye Contact: New Beginning

“New Beginning” is the title tune off the latest release by acoustic bassist Harvie Swartz, but it could also apply to his new identity, Harvie S. This self-released disc is the second by his jazz/Afro-Cuban/fusion band, Eye Contact. It also contains some funky elements, occasional electronic effects, even world music, but the predominant sound is Latin. It’s a far cry from his hard-swinging days with Getz and Zoot-or his 14-year stint with singer Sheila Jordan.

In the present context, Harvie (I feel silly calling him S) tends to get buried in the mixture of sonorities. There is no doubt about his virtuosity, but since there is precious little swing, his main contribution is maintaining the hypnotic repetition of Latin licks. Eight of New Beginning’s nine tracks are his originals, and most of them are boring. “Chump Change” and “A Bright Moment” show off pianist Daniel Kelly’s chops. Violinist Gregor Huebner induces a beautiful tone on the rhapsodic “Luna Romantica” and is answered by Harvie’s most eloquent moments. It also includes a fine solo by trumpeter Ray Vega. He and tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker each get two guest spots. Percussionist Renato Thoms is as tasteful as he is busy. The same could be said for Harvie, instrumentally. But while he has established Eye Contact as a group, it goes in so many directions as a concept it loses ear contact.

Originally Published