Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eric Harland

The drummer doesn't seem to be moving much. His head is rolled back a little... could be meditating. Every once in a while he looks out and flashes a winning grin, or pauses, shakes his head gently. Then back to work. But what exactly is he doing back there? Most of the focus is on the snare and toms... not a lot of cymbal work, not even a lot of high-hat. Not much flailing about for impressive effect. The beat is propulsive, but where exactly is it in that fascinating, swirling rumble of sound? None of the big back-beat or hip-hop glitch effects that seem popular among top jazz drummers these days. More implicit than explicit. He is in perfect sync with the rock-steady bassist, Larry Grenadier.

Chris Potter is the headliner, and he takes most of the solos. Technically, he may be the most impressive jazz saxophonist I have heard. Although he definitely gets into the zone, I do wish his playing went outside a little more... he'll deliver a squawk once in a while, but then it's back off into his liquid modal arpeggios and runs. But who else can play arpeggios and runs like that?

Potter is great, but he gives the final solo to Harland. For not the first time, the bandleader stands off to the side and observes with a bemused expression, as if just as mystified by this subtle virtuosity as the audience is. The climax of the solo is a drum roll on the snare, which seems to last for three or four minutes. If you are Eric Harland, you can squeeze the whole world into a drum roll.

(Stanford Jazz Festival, 8/7/2013)

1 comment:

  1. BTW, Larry Grenadier is the longtime bassist for the Brad Mehldau Trio, which you should check out. Nothing like the concert we saw in SF. VL