Earl Harvin

Trio/Quartet

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    5
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A nicely recorded, well-played exercise in modern/mainstream jazz. Leader Earl Harvin was little-known at the time this was recorded in 1995, and it's clear by the music contained herein that he's a very fine young straight-ahead jazz drummer. He's strong and spontaneous, capable of lighting bonfires or candles, depending on the situation. Pianist Dave Palmer is a fine, mature player. This is largely a piano trio album (saxophonist Shelley Paul Carrol sits out on several cuts), and Palmer is a gifted trio pianist in a Red Garland/Bill Evans mold -- tasteful and sensitive, with a refined melodic and harmonic palette. Bassist Fred Hamilton is a solid, mature, and creative player, as well. As a trio they work together extremely well. Carrol adds a somewhat ragged edge to the mix, which isn't necessarily bad, but it's clear that he was a bit less-developed as a player than the others. He's rather too enamoured of John Coltrane for his own good -- both in terms of his vibrato-less tone and improvised lines -- but he's a vibrant, passionate voice that contributes some nice moments. There's a very nice chemistry to this band; this record would have been right at home on any of the major jazz labels. Instead, it was recorded for the small, Dallas-based Leaning House imprint, which means Harvin and company didn't get the acclaim they deserved. A very fine effort.

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