Stefon Harris - Black Action Figure 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Brian Kahn   
Tuesday, 14 September 1999

Black Action Figure,
Blue Note Records
| Performance-8 | Sound 8 |

Stefon Harris’ second album Black Action Figure shows off a fun and playful side of the artist whose first album A Cloud Of Red Dust garnered much critical acclaim. Stefon plays the vibraphone with a great amount of experimental playfulness and allows the remaining performers to experiment as well, never playing the same song the same way twice.

The album begins with a swinging uptempo track ‘Feline Blues’ which features some great trombone playing. The horn section continues strongly with ‘Of Things To Come’ in which the band works collectively within a funk influenced structure. Stefon continues to play experimentally throughout the disc letting things get a bit funky and playful. Towards the end of the album the beat slows down a bit with ‘Chorale’ and ends with ‘Faded Beauty.’ In the last song Stefon uses the vibraphone to create a melodic and lush ending to this experimental, funk influenced album.

Being fortunate enough to recently see Stefon play at the renowned Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles I am pleased to say that the album captures much of this young musician’s energy and talent. On stage Stefon is an energetic performer, eager to please and pours his soul into his music. The engineers did a good job preserving the balance, tonal accuracy and timbre of the instruments. The nuances of the decay of the vibraphone notes and how Stefon plays off of them is clearly heard. While listening to the vibe solos interspersed throughout the disc I was easily able to picture Stefon playing the vibes in front of me.
Stefon’s strength as a musician comes from the results of much time spent studying music history and theory along with a great amount of passion and raw talent. Black Action Figure clearly shows off Stefon’s strength for making great music with the vibraphone and is recommended.

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