Soul Awakening

Soul Awakening

This 2019 offering was in fact recorded in 2012 but stands up as a current and relevant statement from Brandee Younger, that rare exponent of jazz harp—buoyed by her late role models Dorothy Ashby (“Games”) and Alice Coltrane (“Blue Nile”), among others. Younger presents the harp not as an isolated oddity but rather as a key textural component, part of a community of sound. There’s no piano, so she is generating all the harmony, with billowing arpeggio figures and sparse but vivid chords couched in a bright, broad, reverb-enhanced sound. The core bandmates are acoustic/electric bassist (and producer) Dezron Douglas and drummer E.J. Strickland, who mix it up with Younger as a trio on “Games,” adding Niia on vocals for the ethereal Marvin Gaye cover “Save the Children” (a tribute to Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, lost in the Sandy Hook school shooting). But the rotating horn players, alone or in combination, also do much to define the tightly focused program. The tenor saxophone contingent alone—Ravi Coltrane, Chelsea Baratz, Antoine Roney—brings a range of tonal personalities and soloing approaches into the mix.

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