Sunday, October 04, 2009

Jazz Brunch Jam - The Afterthought

So here's a little insight into my life. Whenever I hit up record fairs, I'll buy anything from Roy Ayers that I come across that I don't have. The man's been on the scene for five decades, and he's still keeping it just as fresh as he did back when he released his initial release, West Coast Vibes. A lot like Miles Davis (but not nearly as well known, unfortunately), his sound has evolved through several genres as he's progressed as a musician. And damn, does he know how to make some sweet music with a vibraphone!

That being said, when I caught wind of contemporary vibraphonist Stefon Harris, I was eager to check him out. His latest release, Urbanus, came out late in August, and as vibes aren't exactly common stock on 99.9% of albums out there, I felt the need to check it out to see how it stacked up against the master. Truth be told, Harris and his group Blackout do a great job pulling on the vibe of early Ayers' vibes. And when I say early I mean his first few 60's albums where he fit more neatly into the straight out jazz spectrum while still fronting that unique vibraphonic sound of his. The Afterthought, which you can check out below, is a perfect example of this. Urbanus as a whole feels like it could slot somewhere in Ayers' early discography for the most part, although there are moments when they pull forward in time to a more progressive place as well as some dashes of funk and electrification: on three of the tracks, you'll find some vocoder work that weighs heavily in the 80's camp. Unlike much of Ayers' later work, Harris' vibes remain clearly front and center throughout this album.

If you end up feeling Harris and his vibes, there's an opportunity for you to win some sweet prizes from him as well. Check it:
Inspired by the original artwork of the album which was then animated for the video, Stefon Harris and Blackout are challenging you to create your own remix of the video for "Gone." Simply download the music and the art, rework it and remix it, using free online software (or your own of your choosing), and post your video to the contest page on YouTube.

The winner will be chosen by Stefon and the graphic artist/video designer, and the winner will receive a video premiere, autographed lithograph of the album art and a copy of the CD.

Download all the necessary tools and get more info HERE.

Even if making videos isn't your thing, check out the following cuts. The vibes are a difficult instrument to pull off and to maintain as integral to a single song, never mind an entire album, but Harris does the master proud with Urbanus.

and one from the master:

Visit his website, his label Concord Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

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