Monday, September 07, 2009

Billy Harper - Soran Bushi. B.H. (Denon, 1977; BH Fan Club 2009)

This is another in the series of archival re-issues of great 1970's LP's by the tenor saxophonist and composer Billy Harper. Harper's deep and spiritual music fell between the cracks during the 1970's and 80's but he's been getting more attention of late, which is a very good thing. This album was recorded in Japan in the late 1970's with Harold Mabern on piano, Everett Hollins on trumpet, Billy Hart on drums, and Greg Maker on bass. "Trying to Get Ready" is deep modal jazz taken at a very fast tempo. Hollins's trumpet is just explosive, egged on by thick piano chords. A potent drum solo sets the stage for brawny tenor saxophone and then a hot climax of tenor and drums together. "Loverhood" is quite interesting, it's a solo saxophone ballad, featuring Harper's tough but tender tenor moving in and around the melody, bobbing and weaving in a beautiful fashion. "Soran Bushi B.H." finishes up the album with a lengthy and very exciting performance. The full band is present on a vaguely Asian sounding melody, before strong piano breaks out followed by Harper's tenor shining through like rays of sunshine on a cloudy day. Big slabs of thick piano alternate with bass and drums and sweeping powerful tenor saxophone on a very impressive performance. This was a very enjoyable album, Harper took up the mantle of John Coltrane's music during the early 1970's and has been keeping the spirit of deep powerful music alive ever since. Long may he do so.
Soran Bushi, B.H. -

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