Open Up Your Mind
Renowned in his hometown of New York City, versatile soul-jazz singer and guitarist Allan Harris has earned a broad fan base in his travels. A shimmering showcase for his rich, emotional style, Open Up Your Mind is a travelogue in which Harris stylistically traverses territories near and far.
Lyrics to the dreamscape “Shores of Istanbul” conjure exotica from the Middle East. But the rhythmic vibe is mystical and tropical, steeped in the retro cool of keyboardist Lafayette Harris’ spirited Rhodes harmonies. Finding inspiration closer to home, Harris offers the powerful, gospel-flavored pro-America anthem “I Do Believe”; digs into the down-home, dark and gritty blues of “Inner Fear”; and swings mightily on the lighthearted, easy-rolling opener “Can’t Live My Life Without You.” Infusing this track with electric-guitar harmonies and solo bars, he shares the spotlight with Miami saxophonist Jesse Jones Jr. Jones’ breezy, colorful lines play off Harris’ vocal lead so perfectly, the track could be considered a duet. Their synergy also graces the wistful, bossa-influenced “There She Goes” and the moving soul ballad “Color of a Woman.”
Harris’ compositions are so engaging that the stylish cover of “Fly Me to the Moon”— even with its smoky, unpredictable improvisations by Jones — is but a charming detour. The original material is far more compelling and provides ample reasons to follow Harris’ journey.
— Jonathan Widran