The Denver-based Greg Harris Quintet is an exciting ensemble performing original compositions in a contemporary jazz style that mixes sophisticated harmonic and melodic content with accessible, in-the-pocket grooves. On the groups latest release, Frames Live, vibraphonist/leader Greg Harris, guitarist Matt Fuller, trumpeter Erinn Bone, bassist James Calvin Thompson and drummer Bill Larson are captured in an intimate club setting where stunning individual prowess and sensitive interplay is fully exposed.
Harris, who contributes the bulk of the compositions, writes tunes that are riff-oriented and move in rhythmically unpredictable ways. The challenge proposed by tunes like "Flank Fuzz" and "Folklore" is for each soloist to successfully navigate the perplexities of the music in convincing ways. Fortunately, Harris, Fuller and Bone are all strong soloists with advanced harmonic understanding and lyrical sensitivity. The 3/4 bounce of "Lightness" provides the perfect backdrop for all three soloist to shine. An improvisational highlight of the disc is the intuitive free-form exchange between vibes, trumpet and guitar on "Calm Our Spirits." Thompson and Larson, aside from holding down one insatiable groove after another, are also inclined to moments of exploration. The dynamic rhythm duo sizzles on Bone’s "Reach," an intense, up-tempo swinger.
Frames Live is a well conceived and brilliantly executed set that will appeal to a jazz audience of wide-ranging tastes. Harris and company are a forward thinking collective with an optimistic musical vision. This one pleads for repeated listening.