May 27, 2024

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CD review: Eric Harland – 13th Floor 2018: Video

As one of jazz’s busiest drummers, and leader of a band filled with in-demand players, Eric Harland has to take his time in between Voyager albums. But they are consistently worth the wait.

13th Floor, the group’s second studio album, continues to refine a language of lofty, joyous melodicism and turbulent rhythm, with the pastoral moods of “New Song” and “Plane Over Kansas” bumping against the agitated beats of “Fast 5” and “September 24” or the driving all-out swing of “Contrast.”

Not just a forum for flashy solos, the program overflows with lyrical unisons, counterpoint, and arranged elements that add dimension to the sound. Yet pianist Taylor Eigsti is never less than gripping in his improvised flights; his interactions with tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III and alternating guitarists Julian Lage and Nir Felder are as rousing as they are subtle, while bassist Harish Raghavan anchors the bottom and executes parts with skill and sensitivity. Harland’s drum features erupt toward the end of several tracks, forcefully reminding us who is at the helm.

  1. Treachery (1:21)
  2. The Teller (Aquila) (6:32)
  3. Fast 5 (3:01)
  4. New Song (4:30)
  5. Contrast (6:09)
  6. Dark Horse (5:41)
  7. September 24 (3:11)
  8. Submission (2:57)
  9. 13th Floor (6:20)
  10. James Joint (1:02)
  11. Plane Over Kansas (6:56)

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