Thanks Be To Keyon Harrold & All The Mugicians of the World

Since the tick-over of the calendar year is when people stop to reflect on the year gone and the one ahead, it seems like a good time to talk about Keyon Harrold’s album The Mugician: undoubtedly one of the greatest music offerings of 2017 with timely, important messages to take forward into 2018 and beyond.

Keyon Harrold - The Mugician

The Mugician (2017)

The album’s 12 eclectic tracks are the fruits of years of labour by the trumpeter, vocalist, composer and producer who’s spent decades creating music with the creme de la creme of contemporary jazz, hip hop and soul artists, touring with Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour and more recently playing trumpet for the Miles Davis character in the Don Cheadle film Miles Ahead.

The Mugician is but one of Keyon Harrold’s countless musical accomplishments. But this one he himself has sown, nurtured and led to its fruition – with contributions from a long list of equally-superb contemporary musicians and vocalists who delivered, in their own respective projects, some of the other great music offerings of 2017 – and probably will this coming year too. Georgia Anne Muldrow, Robert Glasper, Gary Clark Jr, Pharoahe Monch, Bilal, Josh David Barrett, Terrace Martin, Marcus Strickland, Chris “Daddy” Dave, Pino Palladino, Jermaine Holmes, Andrea Pizziconi, Brandon Owens and Big K.R.I.T. are amongst them.

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On The Mugician Keyon Harrold and those artists deliver musical and lyrical themes that are a necessary reflection on,  and questioning of, the unjust and seemingly-insane times in which we live. Songs like ‘Broken News’ and ‘Circus Show’ highlight last year’s U.S. news headlines about the plight of refugees, climate change, inadequate health care, police violence and poverty – and ask the question everyone around the world is or should be asking: “What the hell’s goin’ on?”. ‘When Will It Stop?’ is another fundamental question asked in reference to “sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, homelessness, classism and the granddaddy of them all: racism”. ‘MB Lament’ also, is a beautiful instrumental ode to Michael Brown, one of the many African-American victims of unjustified police shootings in recent years.

Thankfully there are artists like Keyon Harrold and his collaborators bringing attention to these issues through music’s wide reach; and doing so in a way that conveys the necessary feeling of urgency.

Keyon Harrold - The Mugician

Thankfully also and equally important, is that the rest of the songs on The Mugician deliver strong messages of love and hope. And when reflecting on both the past and future years, it’s clear that we all need lots more love and hope. Just like we all desperately need the healing power of music and the “mugicians” making it – something the album’s title track is a beautiful reminder of.

Reflecting on matters beyond the album’s themes, on music more generally, this Keyon Harrold creation is a refreshing reminder of other things: that there are still musicians in the world today continuously working hard at their craft no matter how long they’ve been doing it for; that fresh, innovative, original sounding music can still be created; that it’s a beautiful thing to hold and hear a body of art in the form of an album; that artists don’t need to fit their music inside any one genre box. It’s ok to incorporate elements of jazz, hip hop, classical, R&B, reggae and Afro Beat like Keyon Harrold has on The Mugician, as long as it’s composed well, played well and makes the listener feel; and, that it’s a rare and delightful thing to see a trumpeter take the lead in directing, composing and producing music projects with the voice of the trumpet as an integral focus of the music.

Finally and fundamentally, this album reminds us that in spite of and because of the challenging, unjust world humans have created, music (and love too) are the greatest and most-needed healing forces.

Listen here to 2 tracks from the The Mugician, remembering these are mere super-compressed mp3 versions. If you like what you hear you know what to do: support Keyon Harrold and his collaborators working their healing magic on us, by buying  the album on sweet vinyl, cd, or digitally if you must.Keyon Harrold - The Mugician

Wayfaring Traveler by Keyon Harrold featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow, Jermaine Holmes and Robert Glasper – The Mugician

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Circus Show by Keyon Harrold featuring Gary Clark Jr – The Mugician

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Catch Keyon Harrold performing live wherever you can. The experience of hearing him play the trumpet and where he’s guaranteed to surround himself on stage with the highest calibre of musicians, is truly sublime.  You can check out videos of Keyon Harrold performing live in New York and Melbourne, and an interview with him here.

Keyon Harrold live concert 2016

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