Stefon Harris / David Sanchez / Christian Scott

Ninety Miles

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This album is a collaboration between vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Christian Scott, and tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, recorded in Havana with Cuban musicians, including pianists Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa. It's not a Latin jazz album, though; these guys are primarily interested in moving classic hard bop into the future with infusions of hip-hop sensibility and groove, and that aesthetic permeates Ninety Miles, though there are occasional keyboard montunos and plenty of conga-driven rhythms to be heard, particularly on the album's peak, the hard Afro-Cuban/New Orleans funk workout "Congo." In a way, Ninety Miles is a puzzling album, because it doesn't seem to be making any explicit political statement; it's about the artistry, and nothing more. Christian Scott is a blazing young trumpeter in the Clifford Brown mold; Stefon Harris, who came up under Greg Osby, is keenly aware of the vibes' traditional position within jazz, and makes the most of that; David Sánchez is a powerful saxophonist with a flair for melody over muscle-flexing displays of lung power. And that's all they really want you to take away from this album. It's a blowing session that just happens to have been recorded in Cuba, with Cuban musicians backing them. Which, in its way, is a political statement, if an oblique one. But the album is well worth hearing on purely musical grounds.

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