Subject: Michael Bettine review of Donald Harrison "Life Stories"

Dear Mr. Bettine:

I'm glad that you noticed the "strong musicianship and sense of melody" in Donald Harrison's "Life Stories." You singled out some of the most striking points that make this recording so great, ie. strong melody, idea development, varied instrumental tones and hip feeling. I was proud to be a part of such a notable endeavor.

However, I must confess to some befuddlement regarding your comment that "the music here doesn't stray too far from its bop roots." (You critics and your clichés) Perhaps you could take another more in-depth listening to the work of Mr. Harrison and the guys and explain the logic underlying that conclusion? On a stricter note, Charlie Parker and his contemporaries are barely represented here except in an echo of the whole tradition of Jazz music; certainly the vocabulary and feeling are all quite different from what you would have heard almost sixty years ago. Are you implying that there are virtually no other roots present? What about the blues? What about the New Orleans tradition? (You can't have a "backbeat" without the "second line.") You've done a great disservice to the Nouveau Swing concept by not focusing on its powerful contemporary elements.

Tell me, how is it that the title track (Real Life Stories) became a blues? To what kind of blues would you be referring exactly? (Perhaps you mean blues inflections, which certainly are not obvious enough for you to simplify this tune - a doo-wop inflected theme and chord changes - as blues?)

Overall, I guess your review is a good one, but it seems to almost completely miss the mark on some very important issues.

God Bless,
Eric Scott Reed

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