By: Eric Alan, All Jazz Radio

BrandeeYounger_MG_7018-EditThere have been few Jazz Harpists in the world of music, after all how many musicians would count the concert harp as a lead instrument in jazz today. Casper Reardon has been acknowledged as the person who brought the world attention to the harp and a lead jazz instrument and that was way back in the 1930’s. In 1936 he became known as the World’s Hottest Harpist, sadly he passed away at the tender age of 33 in 1941. Having known and enjoyed the works of earlier jazz harpists Turiya (Turiyasangitananda, her full adopted Sanskrit name) Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Jeanne Thompson better known as Dorothy Ashby, and recently discovering the music of Brandee Harper.

This is young harpist, Brandee’s 5th album, Soul Awakening, which has been independently released June 7, 2019 just a few weeks before her birthday on July 1. The album was recorded back in 2012 under the eagle eye and nimble fingers of producer and bassist Dezron Douglas supported by a cast of well-known musicians and friends.

Soul Awakening has come as a very pleasant listening experience and a surprise to me. Many who know me know that I have a penchant for instruments not usually associated in jazz. This highly talented young composer, recording artist, bandleader, sought after studio and touring musician has brought the concert harp, back as the lead instrument to the forefront in the jazz world of today.

As most who know me when reviewing I try not to get too technical and prefer to review the overall likeability of an album. This one is very appealing with each track offering a highly enjoyable listening experience. Each of the musicians and guests bring and fill the soundscape with a joyful exuberance that is heard in their playing showing that they too enjoyed the making of this music. As each chapter unfolds and expands one cannot wait for the full story to be brought to the life in ones minds eye and by the end of the album understanding the full picture of what all concerned were trying to showcase. I must confess that I love this album so give it a listen then add it to your collection one will not be disappointed.

Track Listing

  1. Soulris ft. Ravi Coltrane 04:53
  2. Lindalee 04:43
  3. Love’s Prayer ft. Ravi Coltrane 05:22
  4. Respected Destroyer ft. Sean Jones07:01
  5. Games 05:42
  6. Save the Children ft. Niia 05:30
  7. Soul Awakening 03:51
  8. Blue Nile ft. Antoine Roney 07:33

Brandee Younger, concert harp
Dezron Douglas, bass, producer
EJ Strickland, drums
Ravi Coltrane, tenor sax, tracks 1,3
Sean Jones, trumpet, track 4
Freddie Hendrix, trumpet, track 2
Stacy Dillard, soprano sax, tracks 7,8
Chris Beck, drums, tracks 1,3
Chelsea Baratz, tenor sax, tracks 2,4,7
Nicole Camacho, flute, track 7
Antoine Roney, tenor sax, track 8
Corey Wilcox, trombone, track 4
Niia, vocals, track 6

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