Personnel: Donald Harrison AS Ron Carter B Billy Cobham DS
Review by Scott Yanow Altoist Donald Harrison gained his initial fame in the late '70s when he was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, following that up by co-leading a notable quintet with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. Although he never quite became a poll winner or a major influential force, Harrison has always been a solid improviser. New York Cool moves his career up a notch and is one of his finest recordings to date. Reuniting in 2005 with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Billy Cobham (the trio had recorded Heroes for the Nagel Heyer label in 2002), Harrison and his sidemen constantly challenge each other, with each of the musicians feeling free to set the direction of the performances. The repertoire is comprised of "Body and Soul," "Harrisburg Address" (based on "I Got Rhythm"), "Easy Living," "I'll Remember April," "Star Eyes," Ron Carter's "Third Plane" (which deserves to become a standard), and the medium-tempo "Blues for Happy People." The musicians feed off each other's ideas and their interplay is full of subtle surprises and unpredictable moments. New York Cool demonstrates that there is plenty of life still to be found in bebop standards when they are played in creative fashion. Highly recommended.