7 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

1971’s Instant Death features a squad of top players from Harris’ native Chicago, including guitarist Ronald Muldrow, bassist Rufus Reid, conguero “Master” Henry Gibson, and piano and kalimba player Muhal Richard Abrams. Joining in on drums is the long-working and propulsive Philadelphian, Billy James. These foundational, no-nonsense jazzmen helped to rein in some of Harris’ shaggy tendencies, and forced him to step up his chops. “Superfluous” and “Tampion” are the perfect blend of colorful exploration and twirling jazz technique. This being Eddie Harris circa 1971, there are also some indelible grooves, particularly on the title track and the extra-deep, slow-burning salsa “A Little Wes.” As had become his custom by this point, Harris delivers a deeply felt abstract blues in the form of “Nightcap.” The most crucial aspect of the album is the reunion of Harris and Abrams, high-school friends whose careers diverged only to meet again in these songs. The heart of the album is the blending of Harris’ beefy funk with Abrams’ more cerebral conceptions.

EDITORS’ NOTES

1971’s Instant Death features a squad of top players from Harris’ native Chicago, including guitarist Ronald Muldrow, bassist Rufus Reid, conguero “Master” Henry Gibson, and piano and kalimba player Muhal Richard Abrams. Joining in on drums is the long-working and propulsive Philadelphian, Billy James. These foundational, no-nonsense jazzmen helped to rein in some of Harris’ shaggy tendencies, and forced him to step up his chops. “Superfluous” and “Tampion” are the perfect blend of colorful exploration and twirling jazz technique. This being Eddie Harris circa 1971, there are also some indelible grooves, particularly on the title track and the extra-deep, slow-burning salsa “A Little Wes.” As had become his custom by this point, Harris delivers a deeply felt abstract blues in the form of “Nightcap.” The most crucial aspect of the album is the reunion of Harris and Abrams, high-school friends whose careers diverged only to meet again in these songs. The heart of the album is the blending of Harris’ beefy funk with Abrams’ more cerebral conceptions.

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