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MIKE HERRIOTT &

SEAN HARKNESS

Flights, Vol. 1

Self-released

This CD is by two musicians (named H2 on the sleeve from their surnames) who met one another on a six-week tour of Japan and developed their ideas there.  The result is this very unusual combination of instruments: flugelhorn and guitar, which go unexpectedly well together.  On four tracks they are joined by bass and drums to make a more conventional line-up, with a trombonist added for Leap Year.

There are obvious limitations in such a duo.  The flugelhorn is, by its nature, a fairly restrained instrument, and the guitarist also plays quietly, without any histrionics.  This makes for a mainly serene CD, but this placidity is an advantage.  Even fastish numbers like Gambled are moderate.  You might describe the music as “easy listening”, without the suggestion of dumbing-down that this phrase often signifies.  It just means that your ears won’t be blasted by loud sounds.

The opening track shows that the group (on this track, a quartet) can play with restraint but also with plenty of verve.  Sean Harkness’ guitar hustles along vigorously and Kevin Coady’s drums join in the stimulating semi-Latin beat.  The drummer also adds punch to Gambled.  Mike Herriott’s flugelhorn harmonizes warmly with Mark Miller’s trombone in Leap Year.

Myffed shows how the guitar can fill in behind the flugel with the richness of a whole rhythm section.  Many of the tunes are pleasingly melodic: most of them composed by Harkness, with two written by Herriott.  The latter wrote Myffed and the cool Kyra’s SongHedge Your Bets nicely contrasts the smoothness of the flugelhorn with the bite of the guitar.  The title of the closing Hammock Time might represent the mood of much of this CD: relaxing and yet balanced and swinging.

Herriott and Harkness prove with this (their debut album as a duo) that less is indeed more.

-Tony Augarde

http://www.musicweb-international.com/jazz/2010/Mike_Herriott_Sean_Harkness.htm

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