Donald Harrison

Nouveau Swing

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On his Impulse! Records debut, Donald Harrison mixes his usual straight-ahead work with rhythmic elements from tropical climates. Albert Wonsey plays appropriate piano on all tracks, though Harrison employs two different rhythm sections, Christian McBride and Carl Allen for the more conventional tunes and Ruben Rogers and Dion Parson for the others. The others include "Bob Marley," twhich borrows its rhythmic feel from such later Marley songs as "Exodus"; "Little Flowers," which also has a Caribbean lilt; "Septembro," the requisite samba; and "Duck's Groove," the requisite New Orleans second-line number. The concept is slight and inconsistently applied, as if Harrison was looking for something distinctive, but not too challenging. As ever, he is a proficient alto player with a comfortable retro style. But one might have expected more from producer Tommy LiPuma, who is usually able to make things lively even if not impressive, and one certainly hoped for more from Harrison, who is too old to be a young turk yet still shows no signs of mature mastery.

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