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Stefon Harris & Blackout: Urbanus

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In his musical life so far, the dazzling vibraphonist-bandleader Stefon Harris has mapped out a willfully varied course, taking care to acknowledge his deep jazz roots while venturing out into new and creative terrain. After his last album, the chamberesque Ellingtonia of African Tarantella: Dances with Duke, Harris’ new offering, Urbanus, harbors a more accessible, party-ready aesthetic.

With his band Blackout, the vibist is the physical, acoustic element in a tight creative collusion with keyboardist Marc Cary, on acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, and saxophonist Casey Benjamin, whose peregrinations into electronics and the half-human sound of the vocoder don’t always feel that contextually sound. Then again, with this project, Harris is valiantly attempting to do some cultural gap-bridging, reaching out to groove-seeking ears while keeping the jazz muse in mind.

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