Harrison Bankhead Sextet

Aug 29 - 2012
Claudia Cassidy

Bassist Harrison Bankhead has been a keystone of the Chicago jazz community for more than three decades, a deeply soulful and adventurous musician who’s anchored groups led by Edward Wilkerson, Malachi Thompson, Fred Anderson, and Ernest Dawkins among many others. Despite his ubiquity in area clubs and concert halls as well as on recordings the Waukegan native had never released an album under his own leadership until 2010, when he issued the stunning Morning Sun, Harvest Moon (Engine).

That recording featured many of the bassist’s must trusted colleagues—reedists Wilkerson and Mars Williams, violinist James Sanders, drummer Avreeayl Ra, and percussionist Ernie Adams—and certainly proved worth the wait. The high-energy band seamlessly veers from spiritual blowouts to serene introspection, with each player getting extended solo space. But more satisfying than the improvisations might be the deep rapport the musicians possess with one another: this particular unit may have only formed a few years ago, but the connections of its members go back decades.

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