Harris Simon

The Mastery of Passion

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This recording is a reclamation project for keyboardist Harris Simon, issuing music on CD for the first time in the U.S. originally released only in Japan back in the late '70s and early '80s. During that last gasp of the fusion era, Simon collaborated with the Juilliard String Ensemble, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, and guitarist Bill Washer, among others, while using acoustic piano and electric Fender Rhodes to perform some favorite compositions and originals. The result is a potpourri of contemporary jazz with chamber and Brazilian or funky underpinnings that is a bit dated à la ersatz CTI Records, but still exciting and fun to hear. While the strings are present on several of these tracks, it is the material written by Hugo Fatturoso that stands out. The outstanding rocked-out "Wind Chant" and hard samba "Romance of Death," originally heard on Airto Moreira's classic Fingers album, are interpreted here with plenty of prerequisite energy and passion. Brecker and Roditi's contributions during the neo-bopping "Swish" and "Don the Don" also emphasize that Simon is an excellent composer as well as performer. The leader also plays a little harmonica during "Street Song," a quaint pop-styled tune. Guests include Joe Farrell on flute and violinist Michal Urbaniak, more indication of the kind of company Harris Simon kept. Issued some 32 years after it was recorded, it's clear he's still proud of this music, and it is good that the date has been given a second chance to be appreciated.

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