Music Tuesday, June 28th Words by: Mark Bowen, pictures by: Mark Bowen

Album review: Remi Harris 'In On The 2'

Music Tuesday, June 28th

Album review: Remi Harris 'In On The 2'

Let's make no bones about it - playing the Montreal Jazz Festival is a big deal. You don't get asked to play the World's biggest jazz festival unless are a prodigious talent with a record of impressing audiences time after time. 

With a new album to promote, the timing of Remi Harris's appearance at one of the planet's most eagerly anticipated musical events could not be better. 

Remi, who started his career in Bromyard, is regarded as one of the UK's best up-and-coming jazz guitarists. A listen to 'In On The 2' demonstrates why. 

The album contains 11 covers, or more accurately I should say interpretations, which sees his style blend elements of gypsy swing, jazz, blues, rock'n'roll, and world music.

While looking at the tracklisting I did exactly what many people will do - seek out the songs I knew to check out how they compare to the originals.

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This had me paying particular attention to three. IMG 9105 Edit

'Can't Buy Me Love' was, of course, made famous by The Beatles. Remi's take on it is about as different as you can get to the original but such is McCartney's melodic genius and Remi's ability as a stylish interpreter that it transfers beautifully to Gyspy Jazz.

It's a great upbeat choice of opener that will have you tapping your toes to Remi's incredibly agile playing. 

Next I checked out Neil Young's 'Old Man'. Remi says this tune reminds him of being nine-years-old and being in the back of his dad's car going to football training. For the rest of us it will bring back memories of Neil Young's original on 'Harvest'. 

While I have to say I prefer Young's version, mainly because it contains perhaps my favourite lyric of all time (Doesn't mean that much to me to mean that much to you), Remi's arrangement did surprise me somewhat - it's a long way from being a straightforward cover and all the better for keeping the listener on their toes. 

The third and final track already known to me is 'Need Your Love So Bad' made famous by Fleetwood Mac while Peter Green was at the helm. The Mac version and particularly Green's lead guitar are so strongly etched in the memory that even including the song ranks as a brave choice. 

But this track is a standout since it offers more electric guitar than most of the other tracks and reflects Remi's boyhood desire to sound lilke Hendrix, Page, Clapton, or Green himself.

It's a memorable display of virtuosity in the face of Green's intimidating predecessor.

Of the other tracks, I have long been aware of 'Puttin' On The Ritz' but I certainly could not claim it was a favourite.

Remi's version is inspired by Gary Potter's take of it on his 'Live at the Quecumbar' album. This is certainly fun-filled and will once again get those toes a tapping. 

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Of the songs I was less familar with 'Cherokee' is high-tempo and swings with energy, providing the perfect foil for its more laid back successor the funky 'Cissy Strut'.

Next up is a calming and appealing version of Thelonius Monk's ballad 'Round Midnight'.

After this comes the aptly named 'Odd Elegy'. Remi says when he first heard the original by Dhafer Youssef he could not contain his excitment over its odd time signatures. It certainly sounds like a complicated piece to play and Remi says he learnt from it when he was figuring out how to do so.

'Have You Met Miss Jones' is Remi's tribute to Joe Pass, one of the first jazz guitarists he spent time listening to, while 'Bock to Bock' pays homage to the sound of Wes Montgomery. I have to say this is one of my favourties on the album. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between Remi's guitar and Mike Green's bass. 

'Waltz For Derby' is dedicated to Remi's granddad Bob Harris - the only real jazz fan in his family. "He's very fond of this tune and always smiles when I play it around him," writes Remi in the sleeve notes. 

I have to say the way you listen to this album is important. Don't make the mistake I did when I first listened to it. Do not try to listen to it in the car. Dig out a pair of headphones and let yourself luxuriate in each and every nuance it offers. It will be well worth it.

'In On The 2', which was engineered by Josh Watkins at Cobnash Studios near Leominster, is a welcome update on Remi's musicial journey. A seemingly effortless display of his nimble fingered virtuosity that along with his appearance at Montreal will ensure the limelight lingers longer than ever before.

Click here to purchase the album.  

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