Stefon Harris – A cloud of red dust

A Cloud of Red Dust
Stefon Harris
by Fred Jung

At first glance, this 25-year-old vibraphonist looks like he would be more at home in a GAP commercial and not on stage with Joe Henderson, but Stefon Harris is not one to be taken lightly. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, the New York native has raised eyebrows touring with Wynton Marsalis, Steve Turre, Steve Coleman, Cassandra Wilson, and Greg Osby. Harris is the standout on Henderson’s Porgy and Bess release and single handily carries Charlie Hunter’s latest Return of the Candyman. With the aid of pianists Mulgrew Miller and Jason Moran, bassist Dwayne Burno, drummer Alvester Garnett, saxophonist Steve Wilson and the before mentioned Turre and Osby, Harris unveils his Blue Note debut A Cloud of Red Dust.

“Sophistry” is an uptempo cooker that has an abundance of energy and spark. The camaraderie between Osby and the young Harris, prodded on by Garnett and Burno makes for attractive possibilities. Wilson’s probing soprano lines and Turre’s melancholy trombone gives weight to the polished ballad “In the Garden of Thought.” Harris’s vibraphone creativity lets the story slowly unfold for vocalist June Gardner, a glamorous songbird. Harris’s inspired level of playing does not decline for the title track “A Cloud of Red Dust.” The vibist receives enthusiastic support from Miller, Osby, and company, but it is his intellectual, grand themes and his impassioned playing that win the listener over.

Harris knows the musical terrain and the people he has surrounded himself with are pointing him in all the right directions. A Cloud of Red Dust is the first installment of what will certainly be a brilliant career.

Visit the Stefon Harris Website