Happy People

Happy People

Happy People

With coproducer Marcus Miller thumping his bass on the first track on the 11-song disc, “Song for DiFang,” Happy People starts off like it could be the first great contemporary jazz album of the millennium. But by the time the album ends with the Coltrane-ish tribute to saxophonist Billy Harper, “Brother B. Harper,” it’s obvious that this album is destined for best-of-the-year lists from hardcore beboppers and world-music lovers alike. Recorded during the week of September 11, 2001, Garrett has assembled a group of melodies nearly as haunting as some of the images from that period. The core band of bassist Charnett Moffett, former smooth-jazz pianist Vernell Brown Jr., hip-hop drummer Chris Dave, and the special guests weave a unique tapestry of songs rooted in China, Japan, and Korea, but with jazz sensibilities and pop overtones. The kudos abound here, from Garrett’s soul-searching sax playing and emotional compositions to those who deliver powerful solos, including veteran vibes master Bobby Hutcherson, guitar wiz Randy Razz, and wordless vocalist Jean Norris. –Mark Ruffin

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