Benjamin Harrison, Nomad Review
Benjamin Harrison is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer originally from Australia, his primary instrument is saxophone, but on his album Nomad, he additionally plays, ewi, piano/keyboard, synth, bass guitar and programming. Harrison has performed and toured across five continents with the Cirque du Soleil’s touring productions of Quidam, KOOZA and VOLTA. Growing up in Adelaide, Australia Harrison received a scholarship from a special-interest music school where he had the opportunity to perform and tour nationally and internationally with several multi-award-winning classical, jazz and choral ensembles. During this period, Harrison achieved several other accolades including selection at the national Generations in Jazz competition playing saxophone in 2004, and as a pianist the following year. In 2007, Harrison studied at Elder Conservatorium of Music and graduated the following year with a Bachelor of Music Performance, specializing in jazz saxophone.
“Let’s Get This Party Started” does just that, it is a fun tune with great playing and solid writing. With a funky groove established by Locas and Todd, with special guest Cory Wong who provides clean funky strumming and warmly distorted single lines. The melody is a nice cross of funk, jazz and soul sonics. Harrison’s saxophone style is a blend of contemporary and traditional. His sense of time is in the pocket and his tone is distinctly contemporary. Wong is outstanding, starting his solo with a rhythmic flurry of lines that builds to a more fusion approach that fits the atmosphere of the tune. The horn section delivers the riff-based melody with tight voicings that are played flawlessly over a serious groove. This is a great opening track that is fun and feels outstanding.
On “Here There Be Giants” Harrison shows his compositional skills along with playing: bass, keyboards saxophone and programming. The composition does make some references to Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” in the harmonic progression in places, but the focus is groove and a flowing melody. The bass and saxophone play the melody and show Harrison’s skills on both. The track builds methodically, each section brings in new sounds and builds upon the last section. Todd’s drum fills between the melodic phrases are very nice and carry the energy. He also takes a very powerful solo against band hits in the middle section. Harrison’s saxophone solo at the end is some of the most ardent playing on the date. Highly enjoyable music and should appeal to a wide audience of jazz and groove lovers.
Benjamin Harrison is a new name, but a multi-talented one with a bright future on the horizon. Nomad is a definitive calling card that will certainly pave the way towards that goal.
January 25, 2019