The Randal Harrison Trio | The Randal Harrison Trio featuring Geoffrey Brady and Mark Urness

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Jazz: Bebop Jazz: Latin Jazz Moods: Type: Improvisational
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The Randal Harrison Trio featuring Geoffrey Brady and Mark Urness

by The Randal Harrison Trio

A gutsy Concert Jazz Trio that incorporates an eclectic mix of Klezmer, Indian classical, Appalachian funk and Piazolla inspired Tangos into their original violin, bass and drum “all jazz” trio sound.
Genre: Jazz: Bebop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Frog Prince
5:04 album only
2. Sail Star
8:37 album only
3. Sleeping Beauties
3:48 album only
4. Happy Latin 176
3:08 album only
5. Nioka
3:55 album only
6. Gettin' Dizzy
6:17 album only
7. Another Year
5:12 album only
8. Tangology
6:41 album only
9. Passages
3:51 album only
10. Needn'tsville
4:12 album only
11. Strut This
4:23 album only
12. Kiss Me
4:22 album only
13. The Ogre
6:13 album only
14. Sister Pat
6:19 album only


Album Notes
The Randal Harrison Trio:
Randal Harrison - jazz violinist & composer
Mark Urness - bass
Geoff Brady - percussion

Harrison’s gutsy, hard driving swing and inclusive approach to composition are the basis for the group, The Randal Harrison Trio. Joining Randal are bassist Mark Urness and percussionist Geoff Brady. Aptly described as “brilliant musicians”1, the rhythm section of Brady and Urness “lead the swinging fiddler into new space”2 while performing Harrison's compositions.

Described as “intellectually stimulating..., but most of all...entertaining”3 , The Randal Harrison Trio’s repertoire of original compositions draws from the great masters of the American Jazz tradition, Indian Classical music, Appalachian Funk, Gypsy and Klezmer traditions of Eastern Europe and Astor Piazolla’s Tango Nuevo of Argentina.

Although the inspirations are world-wide their sound is as distinctive as one's own signature. Always with the audience in mind, there is a story to be told. "Randal Harrison dives into his violin while performing"4 and "brings the tale to life"5 !

Bassist Mark Urness received a Master of Music in double bass performance from the University of Cincinnati and is currently a faculty member at Lawrence University. His diverse performance experience includes five years as Principal Bassist for the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra and New York performances with Adam Nussbaum, Lew Soloff, Eric Rasmussen, and Curtis Fowlkes. Mark Urness compositions appear on several recordings including the Bob Washut Trio's Songbook, Triptych's Play Here. He has most recently recorded with Orquesta Alto Maiz, OddBar, and oft Ensemble. Mark Urness was awarded First Prize in the 2001 International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition.

Percussionist Geoffrey Brady is a native of Pontiac, Michigan. He studied percussion at Interlochen Arts Academy, New England Conservatory and University of Wisconsin with Sam Tundo, Vic Firth, James Latimer and others. He now resides in Madison, Wisconsin, where he performs regularly with such diverse ensembles as Yid Vicious, the Gomers and the Madison Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he regularly performs solo on vibraphone and theremin. Geoffrey Brady is currently hard at work on a one man show entitled "Me, Me, Look at ME!!: A One Man Show", which encompasses an array of Brady's talents, and includes music, dancing, sock-puppetry, the spoken word, and...remembering.

Violinist Randal Harrison’s honors include a 1994 EMMY nomination for composition, the 2004 MAMA’s for Best Blues Artist and Best Jazz Album and the 2008 MAMA's for Best Jazz Artist and Best Classical Artist. Harrison tours internationally as a freelance artist and is a clinician of jazz and violin studies throughout the United States. He has played the Great Hall, the Knitting Factory, the Great Northern Bluegrass Festival and B.B. King's Blues Club in Memphis, TN. Randal Harrison's discography of over 50 recordings includes four as a member of Honor Among Thieves, two with jazz and classical guitarist Brad Reifsnyder and his most recent, The Randal Harrison Trio featuring Geoffrey Brady and Mark Urness.

Tune Description (play by play):

This violin, bass and drum trio performs an eclectic mix of Harrison’s compositions. An EMMY nominated composer himself, Harrison draws from the great composers of the jazz idiom for this recording. Kiss Me has a chord structure reminiscent of Prelude to a Kiss, but Harrison’s melody is much more of a sassy “catch me if you can” than Ellington’s intended romance. As one can decipher from the title, Needn’tsville is definitely Monk inspired, yet as if Zappa did the arrangement. On the other hand one wishes that Billie Holiday were still around to sing the melancholy Another Year, and the Wayne Shorter inspired minor blues Sail Star will take the listener on a rolling journey into the waves of the Milky Way.

Although the composer’s voice is evident throughout, it is the conversation between Brady, Harrison and Urness that propels the audience’s intrigue. The two tangos, Strut This and Tangology, capture the passion and intensity of Piazolla’s tango nuevo. The swing is strong and fat on a tune like Sleeping Beauties, leading the listener to believe that they are listening to an ensemble much larger than a trio. Urness, Harrison and Brady easily capture the many moods of latin jazz on tunes like the fun-for-fun’s-sake Happy Latin 176, and Passages, where the unison burst of technical display is somehow appropriate in this otherwise dark and sultry road groove.

Technique is neither wanting nor overplayed. Made obvious in the opening track Frog Prince, the compositions have been written with great freedom given to the soloist. In turn Brady, Urness and Harrison each recognize the essence of the piece and play with and around its’ borders. The big picture of the group sound may always be at the forefront of the trio’s mind, however safety is not. The opening to Gettin’ Dizzy harkens the Gillespie classic, A Night in Tunisia. The body of the tune soon takes you deep into the heart of Persia with Harrison’s swirling dervish violin solo and Mark Urness’ flawlessly bowed bass solo, a throaty call to prayer. After a quick recall of the melody, drummer Geoffrey Brady inventively wrestles us to a climactic frenzy pulling us, out of breath, to the final sustained violin tones that make it obvious to all the moment was savored.

Sprinkled throughout the CD are odd time signatures and phrase lengths that are so natural they seem quite danceable. The Ogre with it’s alternating 15/4 and 7/4 latin rock like meters is a prime example. The Appalachian-funk of Sister Pat and the swing-drop-one-reggae groove of Nioka, further exemplify the inventiveness applied by Urness, Brady and Harrison to incorporate far reaching musical styles into their own unique jazz sound.

If variety is the spice of life, the debut jazz CD by The Randal Harrison Trio has a complexity to it’s heat and a depth of flavor that make it simply delicious. Prentice Berge - says, “Part Nicoli Pagannini, part Stephane Grappelli, an evening with the Randal Harrison Trio is gonna blow yer socks off.”

1- John Book - Music For America (Jun 25, 2007)
2- Tom Laskin - The Daily Page/MadTracks (May 2, 2007)
3- Jonathan Winkle, Executive Director - Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts (Mar 24, 2008)
4- Times Tribune
5- Tom Laskin - Isthmus



to write a review

Doug Henkle (folklib net)

Randal Harrison (aka Randy Hoecherl)
FYI, in case you are looking for recordings by Randy Hoecherl, you have found them. The liner notes on this CD state, "All compositions [by] Randal Harrison Hoecherl".

Elizabeth Lockwood

Randal Harrison Trio
Loved it! got it for my husband for Christmas and he loved the gift. Saw them live and they where great.

John Book, Music For America

Music that draws you in
Listening to this CD by The Randal Harrison Trio, I found it hard to believe that this was the debut CD by the trio. I had to take a look and while it is the first for these three musicians (Harrison, Geoffrey Brady on drums and percussion, and Mark Urness on bass) as a unit, it is not the first time Harrison has released music. I say this because when you bring in the concept of playing the violin in a jazz setting, you either know what you're doing or you're going to sound very amateurish. Harrison's years of training and teaching shows up immediately in the opening track "Frog Prince", and it only gets better from that point on.

Hearing the music with the violin as the focus is a different experience, because while violins have been used in jazz for years, it is not a traditional jazz instrument. It can provide a very strong sound but it is not as full as, let's say a piano or saxophone, or maybe for me it is foreign compared to other traditional jazz instruments. I liked it that way because immediately one focuses on Harrison's playing, which ranges from playing jazz to touching on classical, folk, and even some ethnic sounds. Just as Stephane Grappelli brought the violin into the jazz forefront and showed what could be done, Harrison adds his own style of playing and continues in the exploration of the music. A bio said it was Grappelli meets Jimi Hendrix, but I hear a bit of Al DiMeola or Frank Zappa in his style of playing, where both play with an incredible sense of style, but when it comes time to rip, he's going all over the place before knowing where the off-ramp is and returning to the theme.

Because of the way the violin is played, I was also able to focus on the drums and bass, and both Brady and Urness are brilliant musicians in their own right. They move into the forefront a few times in the everchanging "Needn'tsville", which seems to change in style and shape throughout the song and it's an exhausting listen. While I am unfamiliar with the genre as a whole, I definitely hear a few Klezmer influences. Due to how complex the songs and arrangements are, it would not be a surprise if Harrison found some common ground with the Tzadik label. The one thing about Harrison's music is that he draws you in to what's going on. Considering his previous experiences with rock bands as well, I could only imagine what would happen if he ever got into a musical collaboration with Carla Kihlstedt and Jennifer Choi.