Stefon Harris & Blackout (USA)
Stefon Harris, vibraphone + Blackout (USA)
For a decade, Stefon Harris’ ensemble Blackout seemed to have vanished. Then, in 2009, in the bold album “Urbanus,” the modern jazz vibraphone linchpin led his quintet through a mix of Gershwin interpretations and Jackie McLean covers, with a nod to Stevie Wonder along the way. Fusing jazz vibraphone with strong interests in R&B and Latin sounds, Harris has explored the frontiers of his instrument since first emerging in the late 1990s.
Album “Sonic Creed” was hailed by jazz tastemaker WBGO 88.3 FM as an essential album of 2018 and praised for its “unerring accuracy and extreme clarity” in an All About Jazz rave. On this seamless triumph, Harris and an airtight Blackout thread tunes by the likes of Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Bobby Hutcherson and Abbey Lincoln together with sophisticated originals, Harris’ vibraphone sparkling across everything. Alternately romantic and relaxed or charged and urgent, the band moves together effortlessly, their communal energy apparent with every turn of phrase. Harris is a consummate instrumentalist; “Sonic Creed” is a pointed reminder that he is also a stunning bandleader in command of a mighty unit.