CD review: Joel Harrison & Lorenzo Feliciati - Holy Abyss

Joel Harrison & Lorenzo Feliciati - Holy Abyss
(Cuneiform Records Rune 334. CD Review by Chris Parker)


'[A] series of expansive soundscapes full of lustrous harmonies, searching melodies and knowing interplay' is what's promised in the press release accompanying this album, and from the off (a slow, almost dirge-like lament, 'Requiem for an Unknown Soldier'), that's exactly what New York-based guitarist Joel Harrison and co-leader, Italian bassist Lorenzo Feliciati, provide for a versatile, inventive band completed by trumpeter Cuong Vu, keyboard player Roy Powell and drummer Dan Weiss.

Harrison's 'Saturday Night in Pendleton', inspired by what the composer calls 'one of the strangest places I've ever been in my life … the twisted cowboys, the stark, gorgeous desert …', contains, in its eight minutes, much of what makes this unpredictable and highly individual album so engaging: a haunting front-line trumpet–guitar blend, rhythms varying between slinky lopes and heavy rock-out passages, snatches of woozy melody.

The album as a whole, too, is as likely to contain the odd rippling jazzy piano solo as brooding free interplay or slow-burning solos, all enlivened by textural variety (Powell moving as required between piano and Hammond B-3) and sudden bursts of fierce interaction between the participants.

There are also a couple of Vu compositions, the wispily floating 'Faith' and a 5/4 scurry, 'Old and New', and all in all, this is a consistently intriguing album that satisfyingly explores all the many bases it touches.

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