NPR : Fresh Air

Filed Under:

'The Edenfred Files': Darryl Harper's Blues-Infused Jazz

In jazz, the clarinet went into eclipse for awhile, drowned out by louder trumpets and saxes. The instrument has long since made a comeback, and the modern clarinet thrives in settings where it doesn't have to shout to be heard.

Take "Spindleshanks," a little out-of-sync boogie-woogie for Darryl Harper's clarinet and Kevin Harris' piano. It's from Harper's The Edenfred Files. In his long-running Onus Trio, the spare unit Darryl Harper features on most of his new album, he can sing softly as an owl in the night.

Harper and his simpatico colleagues cherish that great renewable resource, the blues, which is itself rooted in 19th-century field hollers: music of the cleared woodlands. Harper's woody clarinet timbre makes the connection. The trio plays Julius Hemphill's "Kansas City Line," a modernized blues that's 10 bars long instead of the usual 12; it seems to end in midair. When they play the melody twice, the beginning of the second time through sounds like the real ending. The musicians add to the playful ambiguities by messing with the tempo here and there.

Harper likes his blues with a twist, with some way of tweaking its form or rhythm or feel. The blues isn't all he plays, but on The Edenfred Files it's rarely far away. In bassist Matthew Parrish's "Sirens Calling," a spiky melody and rhythm have the easy flow of an intricate folk dance. Drummer Butch Reed makes it roll.

The Edenfred Files is modest in a good way: a short program for two small combinations, ending with a solo piano Coltrane ballad that's somehow a fitting close to a clarinet recital. It's a musical chapbook or novella, and the scale suits Darryl Harper's pointedly focused music. Sometimes, a small helping hits the spot better than a jumbo platter.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Deadpool' Is a Potty-Mouthed Splatterfest. A Really Funny One

NPR film critic Bob Mondello says Deadpool goes in deep on its R rating — and has plenty of fun doing it.
NPR

Buy Crop Insurance, Double Your Money

The nation's crop insurance program is really a lottery, says one economist. And it's rigged so that farmers win. In fact, farmers typically get back double the money they pay for premiums.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - February 12, 2016

D.C. Council Member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) joins Kojo and Tom Sherwood to chat about her upcoming fight for re-election.

NPR

Do You Like Me? Swiping Leads To Spike In Online Dating For Young Adults

A study by the Pew Research Center finds the use of online dating sites has mushroomed in the past few years, particularly among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.