Lafayette Harris’ new CD “Bend to the Light” makes you feel at home with the very first, captivating, musical phrase of his opening title song. He sets the tone with his light, yet strong and resonant sound, then invites you to join him on a fantastic jazz journey through a selection of a dozen pieces: modern and smooth, nostalgic yet hip, well-loved standards, and internationally inspired originals.
I have had this CD about 3 months now, and because I have been enjoying it so much, I couldn’t just say, “Oh wow! Everybody, check out this new CD, it’s swell!” No, I needed to write about it, to touch on all the songs, it is just that wonderful of a recording. (I imagine, if I had a car, that this would be a CD I would play as I drove through the city at night, or at sunset along a coast with an ocean view; the perfect road-trip jazz soundtrack.)
After the opening piece, “Bend to the Light“, I found “We in the House” especially engaging, Willie Jones III, on drums leads into a pulsating bass line with Lafayette dropping cascading notes like rain from above; at the midpoint there is a tender bass solo by Lonnie Plaxico, so lovely. Reading the liner notes, I was moved to learn Lafayette was inspired by “the journey from Africa to the Americas by those stolen Africans and their captors” (another travel thought and visual, yet one not willingly chosen as the journey was thrust upon those travelers.)
Besides the two originals I have mentioned, Bend to the Light includes these selections:
- “12 Bars” a magical, thoroughly entertaining piece written by Herbie Nichols
- “Take You Out” Lafayette’s wonderful interpretation of the Luther Vandross song
- “Old Devil Moon” and “Tenderly“, jazz standards shaped by Layfayette into beautiful jazz voyages that evoke memories of the lyrics yet take you somewhere new.
and some other original pieces:
- “Achern” (titled after the German city that inspired it) which will take you on boppin’ journey over the ivories
- “Japanese Love Poem” a lyrical and tranquil piece that will transport you to a Japanese garden of sound
- “Blues on the Edge” a minor blues accented by sharp drumbeats that will have you tappin’ your feet, and…
- “Geneva“, the last piece, a musical Tetris game of inversions, a playful escape for your mind, that leads you to a pounding heartbeat of rhythm before taking you back home as the CD concludes with 2 reprises, a vocal version of “Bend to the Light” and a short version of “We in the House.”
Each piece on “Bend to the Light” is a beautiful jazz voyage – I am glad I got my ticket to ride along.
Groove on successfully everyone! – Laurie