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Donald Harrison: The Survivor

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It could be said that alto saxophonist Donald Harrison ably navigates the gray boundary of postbop, soul-jazz and funk. It could also be said that Harrison has spent too much time trying to convince us that his “nouveau swing” concept is an artistically valuable progression of jazz and too little time developing his own voice.

Harrison, a solid musician who lacks a distinctive style, has served admirably as a sideman over the years and has delivered some solid recordings of his own. The Survivor isn’t one of them. The idea here is to demonstrate that hip-hop rhythms can be woven into the fabric of jazz. But when most of your tunes run eight and nine minutes, you’d damn well better mix things up. Unfortunately, pianist Mulgrew Miller (who deserves better than this), bassist Luques Curtis and drummer John Lamkin are fenced in most of the time.

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