Jason’s new voyage

West Coast drummer Jason Harnell branches out from straightahead work to launch an intense experimental solo record

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Drummer Jason Harnell has been a renowned fixture on the Californian jazz scene for over 30 years, playing in a variety of contexts, not least contemporary straightahead, as YouTube clips such as this with Ben Monder attest in grand style.

He’s performed with such luminaries as Larry Goldings, Bob Sheppard, Dave Douglas, Steve Cardenas, Theo Bleckmann, Joel Harrison, Ben Wendel, Rick Margitza, John Beasley, Bruce Forman, John Pisano, Alan Pasqua, Walter Smith III, Kei Akagi and Maynard Ferguson as well as co-leading other groups and being a member of the long-established Los Angeles Jazz Quartet featuring Larry Koonse, Chuck Manning and Darek Oles.

But his new album Total Harnage marks a departure as he branches out into experimental, multi-media territory. In what is a richly embellished solo album he takes the drum solo as the basis for new adventures, incorporating a polyrhythmic homage to Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain along with inspirations from classic films, superheroes, classical music, ambient electronica and abstract art.

That might sound like a recipe for a solemn exposition of artistic diversity, but Harnell brings a comedic touch to the project, saying “I prefer sincere to serious”. The result is a joyfully schizophrenic collection of his favourite pieces from the wealth of material he has amassed during his live solo drum performances.

Reflective of its unique creative vibe and audio-visual presentation, Total Harnage is being sold via Jason’s website in two different formats – LP (he says so that the colourful album artwork can “pop” better) and as a USB flash drive shaped like a cassette that contains the music and all of the accompanying videos (several are already up on YouTube). To hear the music on LP and USB flash drive go to jasonharnell.com or to stream go to jasonharnell.hearnow.com.

This article was prepared with the assistance of the artist.