Sunday, April 5, 2009

Joe Harriott- Free Form

Joe Harriott has remained virtually unknown amongst even the most enthusiastic acolytes of 1960's avant jazz. Most likely, that's because he was Jamaican-British, plying his pioneering style in London Clubs, rather than New York. According to Allmusic, Harriott's music was written off by his American contemporaries as derivative of Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz. That's really a damn shame. I'd say Harriott's early sound is something more akin to Eric Dolphy. They both had the ability to venture into uncharted territory without losing that vital connection to their bebop/post-bop roots. Translation: The melodies are better and their delivery less harsh. When faced with the choice, I'd generally tend to choose Free Form or Out to Lunch over any of Ornette's Atlantic output. No disrespect, but I just like listening to Dolphy and Harriott a whole lot more.

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