Detroit born baritone sax extraordinaire ALEX HARDING and Transylvanian expat pianist LUCIAN BAN have been collaborating for almost two decades, founding several groups together, releasing a handful of diverse albums for American and European labels, performing countless concerts and tours all the while documenting an amazing body of music.
“In near-telepathic collusion, Harding and Ban mean what they say” Derek Taylor, ALL ABOUT JAZZ
The pair first release is Somethin’ Holy (2001, CIMP Records) a duet album with “an arresting immediacy” featuring original compositions and Ellington’s Fleurette Africaine showcasing the duo chemistry and musical concept. In reviewing the album for the print edition of AAJazz Terrell Holmes says:
All About Jazz “Ban plays with a fluency and sensibility that recalls Vladimir Horowitz as much as McCoy Tyner while Harding can break your heart with tenderness or shatter you with intensity”
“Alex Harding and Lucian Ban have developed a fruitful partnership over the years. Harding’s bluesy, church-steeped baritone sax is the logical heir to Hamiet Bluiett’s, while Ban’s tast reflective piano playing combines the elegance and technical precision of the European classical tradition with wide-ranging musical interests and a passion for improvisation” “Alex Harding and Lucian Ban have developed a fruitful partnership over the years. Harding’s bluesy, church-steeped baritone sax is the logical heir to Hamiet Bluiett’s, while Ban’s tasteful, reflective piano playing combines the elegance and technical precision of the European classical tradition with wide-ranging musical interests and a passion for improvisation” Jeff Stockton, ALL ABOUT JAZZ
• In 2003 their Quintet featuring drum legend Barry Altschul along with Jorge Sylvester, Chris Dahlgren was voted “BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR” by All About Jazz Magazine New York among shows by Cecil Taylor, Joe Lovano and others.
• In 2004 the quintet release of “Premonition” featuring Damion Reid on drums (of Robert Glasper Trio) Chris Dahlgren, Erik Torrente received 4* in an All Music Guide and glowing reviews in the jazz press.
• 2006 saw the apparition of the all star TUBA PROJECT featuring legendary Bob Stewart on tuba, J.D. Allen on tenor sax and Derrek Phillips on drums. Budd Kopman reviewing the album in AAJ says:
With The Tuba Project, Lucian Ban and Alex Harding have put together a raucous, blu energetic, and at times ecstatic album. Drawing from deep roots in jazz and Afro-American music, these musicians play with a contagious abandon”
• Alex Harding own group BLUTOPIA featuring Lucian Ban, Nasheet Waits, Brad Jones releases in 2006 on the Norwegian label Jazzaway – The Calling , to glowing reviews. JAZZ TIMES talks about ”musical sophistication and emotional depth”
• Alex Harding & Lucian Ban have also recorded with soprano sax master Sam Newsome recording The Romanian-American Jazz Suite (Jazzaway Records, 2009), an album celebrating the amalgamation of Romanian folk songs and American jazz.
Born in Detroit (baritone sax & bass clarinet) has worked and studied with Yusef Lateef at the University of Massachusetts in 1990, toured Europe performing “Porgy and Bess”. Alex joined the Julius Hemphill Saxophone Sextet in 1993 then began working with people such as: Muhal Richard Abrams, Craig Harris, Lester Bowie, Clark Terry, Joe Bowie (Defunkt), Frank Lacy, Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake, Greg Osby, David Murray (big band), Sun Ra Arkestra and the Queen of soul Aretha Franklin at the 2001 “Divas Live” at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The critics have hailed him as “the new voice on baritone saxophone, the carrier of the great legacy of Harry Carney, Pepper Adams and Hamiet Bluiett”. Alex Harding has released several albums as a leader garnering glowing reviews and appeared as guest on more than 20 albums. www.alexharding.net
LUCIAN BAN Pianist Lucian Ban has “ricocheted among orthodox post bop, free jazz, and inspired hybrids—including his inventive arrangements of the music of Romanian composer George Enesco” on his all star octet album Enesco Reimagined (Sunnyside, 2009) co-lead with bassist John Hébert. In 2013 Ban’s quartet Elevation released the “blustery Mystery (Sunnyside. Ban also has a duo with American violist Mat Maneri, Transylvanian Concert (ECM, 2013), Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader). He has recorded 10 albums as a leader for labels such as Sunnyside, ECM, Jazzaway, etc. His latest album “Songs from Afar” by ELEVATION released by Sunnyside Records Jan 2016 received the 5* review in DOWNBEAT Magazine.