Earl Harvin Trio
To refer to the just-released Earl Harvin Trio at the Gypsy Tea Room, also out on Leaning House Records, as Harvin's third record as bandleader somehow diminishes its results. The two-disc collection sounds as though it were made by a different band, even though keyboardist Dave Palmer and bassist Fred Hamilton once more appear. It's a sprawling, exhilarating, dazzling, jocular, and utterly out record: "Free jazz" only because what the hell else do you call it? It soars to a place jazz hasn't visited since the early 1970s--when old-timers began lamenting the death of their music.
Not long into the 24-plus minutes of "What I Want to Do to You" (originally the bop leadoff track on Strange Happy, rendered unrecognizable in its current incarnation), Palmer suddenly, inexplicably, breaks into a few bars of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." But it's a momentary respite: Palmer cuts loose again, absconding deep into the final funk frontier while Harvin keeps him grounded, laying down a beat like landing lights. Finally, the track dissolves into ambient beats and trancelike rhythms, until you half expect Tricky to come out from behind the curtains and gravel-growl over the track. Every song on the new record's like this, sort of--intimate and whispered one second, consuming and enormous the next. This ain't just a record; it's a lifestyle.
When the disc is written about in rock magazines, there will no doubt
be comparisons to early Weather Report, Live-Evil-era Miles Davis, and
Keith Jarrett, not to mention Tricky and Spiritualized and its prog-rock
progenitors. They're all fair game. Gypsy Tea Room, which gives you a
good idea of what Harvin is like live, is what happens when jazzers
raised on rock decide to cut loose from history, kiss tradition goodbye,
and move directly into a dazzling, unknown future. Thu.-Fri., June
17-18, at the Mint, 6010 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (Robert Wilonsky)