Joel Harrison & Lorenzo Feliciati: Holy Abyss (2012)
With his stylistic approach to jazz guitar, Joel Harrison imparts a mark of authenticity on whatever genre-busting activities he approaches. Whether tackling drummer Paul Motian's compositions with a folk-jazz, chamber slant on The Music of Paul Motian (Sunnyside, 2011), or morphing country, blues, and jazz on So Long 2nd Street (ACT, 2004), the guitarist often injects a newfangled twist within standard fare. On Holy Abyss, he co-leads with wunderkind Italian bassist Lorenzo Feliciati, supported by three eminent jazz artists for a quintessential progressive-jazz set, steeped in variable tempos, unorthodox digressions, sanguine balladry and a surfeit of intriguing slants.
Harrison, bassist Lorenzo Feliciati and trumpeter Cuong Vu all contribute original works; on the bassist's "Solos," the quintet fuses a get-up-and-go gait with a context formulated upon many emotive inflections. With disparate angles emphasized by Harrison and Vu's singing unison choruses over the top, pianist Roy Powell launches a brisk bop groove atop a searing pulse. The quintet reenters with the primary theme and tosses another unexpected curveball into the mix via Powell's melodic and pulsating ostinato motif, leading to the closeout.
This set offers additional credence to Harrison's tactical mindset, as he profoundly offsets the abundance of characterless, kiddie-bop product that floods the jazz marketplace. Indeed, a glittering diamond in the rough.
Track Listing: Track #1; Track #2; Track #3.
Personnel: Joel Harrison: guitar; Lorenzo Feliciati: acoustic bass; Cuong Vu: trumpet; Roy Powell: piano, Hammond B-3; Dan Weiss: drums.