Jerome Harris

Hidden in Plain View

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Jerome Harris and his septet hit the nail on the head for this dedication to Eric Dolphy; in fact, they extend Dolphy's already innovative extroverted ramblings. Harris plays the Sigma acoustic bass guitar on this, his third date as a leader. Marty Ehrlich returns again (see CDs Algorithms and In Passing) on alto saxophone, but particularly bass clarinet on three cuts. Vibist Bill Ware, trumpeter E.J. Allen, clarinetist Don Byron, trombonist Ray Anderson, and drummer Bobby Previte round out a most versatile and far-reaching ensemble of great improvisers. Of the nine cuts, seven are penned by Dolphy. The best-known are "Iron Man," "Out to Lunch," and "Miss Ann," which are refreshingly adapted and redefined. The first of the triad has Previte's funky drums and frequent fills, Anderson's ribald, blaring trombone, Ehrlich's loopy bass clarinet, and Byron's searching clarinet pitching in on an arrangement and solo array that is quite a departure from the original. "Lunch" is a fully orchestrated version, like a big band, replete with half swing time, blatant angularity, stretched harmonics, military march rhythms, and rubato-free segments. "Miss Ann" builds from a long, dour alto sax intro to Allen's trumpet chatters, and bass and trombone solos, before the whole band chimes in. There are many instances, as during the hard-swinging, happy "G.W." and the razor-edged, boppish "Mandrake" where Ware and Allen evoke sonic images of ex-Dolphy bandmates Bobby Hutcherson and Woody Shaw. "Far Cry" is an easy swinging number with Ehrlich's bass clarinet and Byron's clarinet leading to an easy swing-into-counterpointed brass. Two of Harris' originals have illuminating frameworks, the perfectly titled "Emanations" shines with vibes-clarinet-drums/cymbals luminosity, inspired by Stravinsky and Dolphy's speaking voice. The title track is a herky-jerky spastic all-over-the-map melody to a harder swinging but similar motif. You also get "245/Les," a mournful blues ballad, with Byron's clarinet most closely representing Dolphy's laughing, cajoling signature sound. Because few fete Dolphy in the first place, and because these expert jazzmen are quite taken by his unique music, this recording comes up all aces. Highly recommended, and the finest of Harris' small discography.

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