Gene Harris

Tone Tantrum

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Gene Harris never veered closer to mainstream jazz-funk than Tone Tantrum -- a slick, propulsive record recalling Donald Byrd's classic sessions with the Mizell brothers (not surprising, given that Byrd turns up on a few tracks here). It's very much a product of its time, channeling influences from underground disco to Stevie Wonder, and remains arguably the most blatantly commercial release in the entire Blue Note catalog. Paired with singer/keyboardist Jerry Peters, bassist Chuck Rainey, and drummer Harvey Mason, Harris' smooth, slinky Fender Rhodes grooves are couched in lush strings and shimmering backing vocals. Still, while the sound is radio-friendly, the quality and complexity of the performances serve as a potent reminder that Tone Tantrum is first and foremost a jazz record, and a solid (if unconventional) one at that, purists be damned.

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