The Jazzcat

Stefon Harris & Blackout at Royce Hall

by on Feb.13, 2005, under News


Stefon Harris was double billed at Royce Hall with vocalist Lizz Wright and he, along with his illustrious group of great players Black Out, hit the stage first in syncopated rhythmic style. It is amazing to witness such an incredible talent on an instrument with a signature all his own. Of course he has much respect for the masters, but you would think that at least one note would sound like either Milt or Lionel or Bobby or perhaps Walt but, every note sounds and is entirely Stefon Harris.

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With a cast of hot young exuberant players going by the code name “Blackout”, there is no stop to the beauty and dynamics that are constantly explored by this group. The chord changes are a joyful ride at every turn. You never know when you are going to be slowly immersed in the warm ebbs and flows of cascading water or speeding down the Audubon at 100 miles per hour!


Stefon simultaneously plays vibes and marimba adding such texture, tone and creative colors to the music. I believe this is his first time playing here at Royce Hall and he is completely impressed with the size, class and sound of the venue. He says that we Angelos are truly lucky to have such a place to come and hear jazz music.


Stefon is generally a happy cat and has such a delightful personality. He exudes confidence and such passion in his music and has such passionate admiration for each of his band mates. He is just what jazz needs to take this music to the next millennium, a great spirit, fresh ideas and a fresh sound backed up by charisma and definitive musical statements. His gift for composing is astounding and he also gave wonderful vibraphonic blessings to another admired artist Sting, on one of his tunes entitled, “Until”

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Pianist Aaron Goldberg is sitting in with the band for the first time tonight and his adds his marvelous influence on the sound. Terron Gully provides his usual strong, but perfectly timed essence on drums. Vincente Archer held down the bottom nicely on bass and Casey Benjamin adds the saxophone sound all contributing to the sound that is Black out!


Stefon told a story of a woman that they played a song for because it was her birthday. The guys just got up on the stage and started playing and the melody was so nice, they adopted it as a tune that they continue to play in their set. It still remains as an untitled tune which, if you have a name for it, Stefon will consider you suggestion. It was a beautiful long toned piece which reminded me of a lullaby being played for a loving new born child. Since I don’t have any children at the moment, my suggestion would be, “Lullaby for my Precious Unborn Child”. What do you think? Well, the tune was a perfect way to end a set and say good night to a sweet night of music that definitely flew by way too fast.


LeRoy Downs 


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