Ken Vandermark's Joe Harriott Project Straight Lines

Joe Harriott originated from Jamaica and recorded in London from the mid-’50s to late ’60s. Harriott who was often inaccurately compared to Ornette, pursued decidedly post-bop ideas that eventually led him to Indo-jazz fusion. He received praise from the UK press, but languished in a city where gigs were scarce in a microscopic jazz scene. Harriott, to say the least, is under-appreciated in the States. Ken Vandermark and four/fifths of his regular working group attempt to rectify that with their recording of seven Harriott tunes from the early ’60s. The songs are more in the style of Eric Dolphy than Ornette, and with one exception ("Shadows") are not about free playing at all. Vandermark plays bass clarinet on several tracks further evoking Dolphy. Vandermark also plays tenor sax, and is at his best on clarinet ("Idioms"). He is joined by Jeb Bishop on trombone who contributes some very tasty solos. The rhythm section has a fairly orthodox four/four groove happening that keeps things simmering – perhaps they could boil a little more vigorously to match the greater ferocity of the soloists. Still, the inventiveness of the songs is successfully presented and one wonders whether the Joe Harriott Project will go on to tackle the Indo-jazz material of Harriott's later career. (Atavistic)