Premiere: Listen to a Track from Stefon Harris’ New Album, ‘Sonic Creed’


Sonic Creed (Motéma) is vibraphonist Stefon Harris’ third album with his troupe Blackout.

(Photo: Deneka Peniston)

Vibraphonist, educator and DownBeat Critics Poll winner Stefon Harris has recorded a new album, Sonic Creed (Motéma), featuring his Blackout ensemble.

The recording, which is set for release on Sept. 28 and available for pre-order July 20, includes an homage to legendary vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (1941–2016). Below is the debut of Harris’ rendition of “Now,” which was the title track to a 1970 Hutcherson LP.

“Hutch was such a beautiful human being, and a genius, harmonically and technically, of course,” said Harris, who is associate dean and director of jazz arts at the Manhattan School of Music. “He had an insatiable curiosity, and it was a privilege to witness him evolving and growing throughout his life. He would always tell me, ‘family first,’ and I took that to heart.”

Jean Baylor, who’s contributed vocals to recordings by the Yellowjackets, SWV, Kenny Garrett and Jimmy Greene in addition to performing in the Grammy-nomiated Baylor Project, offers breathy, sometimes wordless vocals on the Hutcherson-penned tune. And on Harris’ arrangement, the chorus of voices Baylor floats over supplants strings that filigreed Hutcherson’s original recording.

Harris, who topped the Vibraphone category in the 66th annual DownBeat Critics Poll, uses the Hutcherson song to segue seamlessly into the album’s final track, “Gone Too Soon,” a powerful, 5-minute duet with vibraphonist Joseph Doubleday.

For more info on Harris, visit his website. DB

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March 2020
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