Artist: Harold Little
Label: Uniqek Sound Records
Release Date: 08.11.2017
Music is a vehicle for us to go deeper and reflect, enabling one to go to a special place to gain insight, to feel and know what is beyond words and thoughts. Ultimately, it’s exactly that feeling and knowing that counts. Harold Little, the man and sound behind the music, presents his debut album, Akoben, the Adinkra symbol for “war horn.” Fusing jazz, funk, rhythm and blues, as well as old school hip-hop, the trumpeter channels the ancient Asante people to create a sound that reinvigorates the soul and inspires one go to a deeper place of feelings.
The album showcases Little’s ability to create different sounds and ideas that cross genres. “East of the River,” the opening track, is set to a funky groove with a popping bass line and a back beat that demands you get up and move. Little’s trumpet lines are soulful and have a jazz phrasing and coloring. The result is a listen that is enjoyable and transformative.
On the title track, “Akoben,” Little and Flutiest Jamal Brown present a melody that ignites, and is based in a chilling soul sound with a jazz heart. The goal seems to be to create a mood of comfort of “being” with a relaxed, reparative groove. Brown’s flute solo is energetic and flows. Little’s trumpet solo follows with much attention to detail: a big warm tone, rhythmic clarity, emotional growls, and quotes from other songs, gives it a solid jazz reference.
“We Need Love,” a Little original, features the gospel afro-soul vocals of Karen Linette, along with a choir of: Keena Chew, Brittney Ford, Brandon Ford, Angela Ford, and Kristin Johnson. The lyrics are positive and the gospel feeling of the track will certainly put you in a positive light. They’re accompanied by an uplifting horn solo at the end. Linette’s words call us; “to love,” inspiring us to put more joy and love in our world.
Overall, Akoben is full of interesting rhythms, fun solos, and solid playing throughout. The album is jam-packed with continuity and strong song ideas, and each tune connects well to the next, making the album experience a gratifying listen.