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Eric Harland: Voyager: Live by Night

Drummer's first album as leader is "fresh, powerful stuff"

Eric Harland

Eric Harland’s first album as a leader may put people in mind of Horacee Arnold’s 1974 classic Tales of the Exonerated Flea. The parallels admittedly aren’t perfect: The Arnold album was his second, was done in the studio (Harland’s was recorded live over several days in France), featured entirely new material (some that’s on Harland’s has been recorded before), and involved more rising-star sidemen than the four filling out Harland’s quintet. But this is another case of a brilliant, much-in-demand drummer in his mid-30s seizing the reins for a powerful album of his own, one both adventurous and accessible.

Joining Harland are Walter Smith III on tenor sax, Julian Lage on guitar, Taylor Eigsti on piano and Harish Raghaven on bass-all, like Harland (and Arnold), respectful of jazz tradition without being straitjacketed by it. The compositions are mostly Harland’s, the exceptions being a swinging cover of Sam Rivers’ “Cyclic Episode” and Eigsti’s four-part “Get Your Hopes Up.”

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