Craig Harris

Tributes

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Trombonist Craig Harris had made a substantial name for himself as a key member of bands led by Abdullah Ibrahim, Henry Threadgill, and David Murray before embarking on a solo career, and he took aspects of each of these musicians in his own groups. The collection of talent on Tribute is fairly staggering, and they contribute to what is arguably Harris' finest album as a leader. If he lacks the high level of compositional skill of a Threadgill, he still provides enjoyable, solid structures that allow ample room for some soulful, swaggering solo work. Outstanding in this regard is the liquid, blues-soaked playing of Olu Dara on cornet as well as the driving, on-point contributions of bassist Dave Holland. Harris' pieces tend to be composed of staccato riffs, slightly sour harmonies, and jagged rhythms, groove-based but rarely relaxed. His affinity for funky numbers appears here on "24 Days an Hour," and gives Dara the opportunity to showcase his harmonica chops. As usual, Harris' own playing is garrulous, impolite, and much fun. He was so overwhelming as a soloist in other bands that his own releases often failed to live up to expectations, but Tributes is a happy exception.

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