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Homecoming by Eddie Harris and Ellis Marsalis

Before Wynton, Branford and Jason Marsalis, there was their father pianist Ellis Marsalis who in 1985 recorded a cool jazz album with tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris named after Ellis’ tune "Homecoming." Twenty-four years later and Ellis’ label ELM Records has re-released the original recording and it truly is a desirable treat for audiences. There is such a genuineness in these two cats music that it is palpable from the onset. Their exchanges are striking, like the call and response they do through the title track and the flowery spurts blossoming along "Deacceleration."

There is a sweet lulling in the rolling grooves of drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Jason Stewart that makes audiences wonder why contemporary jazz musicians try to mess around with the relaxing style of their forefathers. Maybe this style is a sign of the times that the music was made, which comes through in the romantic piping of the tracks. The tracks have a natural flow so the music is not over proceeded on too lean. The music sounds as modern as if Ellis and Eddie wrapped up this recording yesterday. Produced by David Torkanowsky, Homecoming truly is a classic.

The way Harris holds his notes and makes them stutter reverberates with good-feeling sensations while Marsalis circles around him in glistening sparklers. The angular cuts of "Ethereal Moments" have an avant-jazz slant, and the Latin-braced beating in "Out Of This World" has fiery overtones brandishing a cool jazz pulsation. The perky piano clips in "Darn That Dream" have a lounge room glitter, and the duo extols an old-fashioned ragtime style in "Have You Met Miss Jones." The rapid shuddering in the piano keys of "Zee Blues" are striped by swiveling saxophone patterns. The steamy pounding of the keys along "Two Piano Louisiana" shift into a sweet New Orleans style jamboree, and the leisurely strut in the keys sweetening "Hickory & Cognac Streets" have a stylish design. The soft shimmers of "Crescent City" are fortified by a reposing backbone, which transform into a jumping blues groove along "Montuno" before topping the album off with a slow, emotive ragtime melody hemming "Blues At The End Of The Session."

Homecoming has a flame that burns eternally. Harris and Marsalis scrabble their parts and bounce around like children just discovering they can produce harmonic complexes that blossom beautifully. The duo makes an ideal pair, able to create music that relates to people’s lifestyles and their craving for harmony.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eddie Harris and Ellis Marsalis
  • CD Title: Homecoming
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Reissue Original Release: 1985
  • Record Label: ELM Records Classics
  • Tracks: Homecoming, Deacceleration, Ethereal Moments, Out Of This World, Darn That Dream, Have You Met Miss Jones, Zee Blues, Two Piano Louisiana, Hickory & Cognac Streets, Crescent City, Montuno, Blues At The End Of The Session
  • Musicians: Ellis Marsalis - piano, Eddie Harris - tenor saxophone, Jonathan Batiste - piano and melodica, Jason Stewart - bass, Jason Marsalis - drums
  • Rating: Four Stars
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