Harriet Tubman
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Harriet Tubman

New York City, New York, United States | AFM

New York City, New York, United States | AFM
Band Alternative Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Harriet Tubman"

Giving fusion a good name, listen to I Am a Man by the group Harriet
Tubman (Knitting Factory KFR 228,41:47, 1998). The first track, the
ten-minute "Savannah," has a build-up and drive that want me to put it
on a cassette alongside Sly's "Sex Machine," Funkadelic's "Maggot
Brain," and Isaac Hayes' "Hyberbolic ... " It has a riff that grabs your
body first, and then lets your mind go along for a long, interesting ride.
The sonic signature could be compared to fusion-era Miles, Brandon
Ross' guitar pulling and teasing and reaching. Ross has enriched
Henry Threadgill's last five or so discs. A heavy, tribal bottom is
provided by the bass of Melvin Gibbs and 1. T. Lewis' drums. I love
this cut. Most of the disc is strong, the weaker tracks only so by
comparison and sequencing. You can tell they could've been better
because those tracks begin with fade- ins and then fade out, clearly
edits of longer jams. - Knit Fac

""I Am A Man" reviews"

review: I Am A Man

reviewed by dan hill

Harriet Tubman lAm A Man

Knitting Factory

Watching the Arto Lindsay Band in London recently one of the greatest gigs I've ever been to - I was particularly taken by the curious figure standing to Arto's right. A tall, rather striking man, wearing what seemed to be a dress and sci-fi trainers, and playing the most subtle, delicate ... well, perfect guitar accompaniment I've probably ever heard. The tour programme revealed him to be Brandon Ross, of Harriet Tubman - a trio named after the African American slave leader. Released on Knitting Factory Records, this is the perfect companion piece to the recent Marc Ducret trio release on Screwgun. Both musicians clearly owe a huge debt to Bill Frisell, and Ross perhaps even more so than Ducret, yet here he defines his own sound. Though his sense of dynamics, twisted harmonics, overdriven tone vs. delicate fingerpicking are all Frisell trademarks, Ross reinvents them all from his own angle, actually sounding quite different beyond immediate face value. Though, as with all good improvising trios, Harriet Tubman are about intimately close interplay, Ross' guitar is incendiary yet incredibly sensitive, leading this electric trio through some shatteringly intense pieces, and some gentle, lilting songs. Frequent, though not overplayed, multitracked guitar adds to the density of the sound, presenting a richer mix than the sparse Ducret set. Bassist Melvin Gibbs is hardly overshadowed - how could he be? From Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, to Bill Frisell's Power Tools and beyond, Gibbs has pinned down the multifarious grooves of the avant-garde/jazz set for years. An astonishing player (he unleashed a solo of such outlandish ferocity at the Arto gig, that even the dumb ass who'd been calling out Gibbs' name all night was, well, dumbstruck). The drummer here, JT Lewis, is new to me, but no doubt well known in the vibrant New York scene these musicians feed into and from. Of course he's ridiculously competent. I don't know of any previous recordings by this trio, but these three musicians gel wonderfully.

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Harriet Tubman lAm A Man

Knitting Factory Records

Savannnah (10:05) Where We Stand (5:23) Hards Dry (3:36), Adapted, (4:25) Take Out (0:31), High Black Skin (3:45), Asiatic Research (3:26), Moly (0:27), Frozen Fire (5:20), Irridescent Shark·Skin Suit (0:32), 2 M.an Army (3:13), Re-Adapted. (0:39) Brandon Ross, guitar; Melvin Gibbs, bass; J.T. Lewis, drums. -- rec. 4.14- 16.98 The Moulding Room, Brooklyn NY

Exhibiting sounds and experiences from the multitude of talent they have performed with seperately in the past, such as David Murray, Oliver Lake, Defunkt, Sonny Sharrock, Henry Threadgill, and Herbie Hancock, the trio Harriet Tubman comes together to create something truly interesting and distinct which combines the freedom' of collective improvisation with satisfyingly accessiole funk and rock elements. Bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis 'have both also worked with guitarist Vernon Reid (Gibbs in a trio with Reid arid Will Calhoun, and Lewis as the original drummer in Living Color) which seems no coincidence considering guitarist Brandon Ross' light, naturally distorted, and echoing sound is reminiscent of Reid, as is his linear and often bending way of attacking a melody. The group's playing is made up of three distinct layers with Ross' searing and soaring loudly above while Gibbs' drives the tunes ahead with deep throbbing lines and Lewis remains ever busy behind the drum kit, whipping up batch after batch of polyrhythmic, funk-inspired drum-pummeling ala Dennis Chambers. • In fact,. Lewis can' often be caught double-timing it home like a teenager late again for curfew as he stirs the pot from the bottom layer. Four tunes on the album employ sequenced and repetitive guitar sounds, as if Ross has two voices struggling to get out at once. On "Hards Dry" in particular, the two other members seem to help Ross attack the monophonic doppleganger, which continues to drone on like a cacophonously dissonant doorbell, until it is silenced completely and followed by a collective victory dance. Other than .. "High Stack Skin" which is the only track classifiable as a ballad, the rest of the set consists of their own brand of melodic trio interaction and three brief glimpses into edited studio moments. The combination of the diversity of the material and the meshing of recognizable rock and funk elements with moments of collective improvisation not only ends up working, but somehow seems natural by the end. Look for this trio to gain a dedicated and diverse following. Scott Menhinick

Washington City Paper

Harriet Tubman: "Muscles AND brains".

Black Country Rock

By John Murph "I Am a Man" by Harriet Tubman

It's evident that the avant-jazz trio Harriet Tubman applied the principles of Ulmer's Works on its"sensational debut, "I Am A Man". Guitarist BrandonRoss, bassist Melvin Gihbs, and • druriuner J. T. Lewis sublimely fuse ricocheting rhythms and screaming guitar blasts with intricate improvisation, and subtly employ sampling and digital devices to create ambient soundscapes that are as wide as a prairie.

The band's members boast wideranging resumes. Ross, who serves as the group's focal point in this set, is probably best known as" vocalist Cassandra Wilsons' music director for her "Blue' Light 'Til Dawn" and "New Moon Daughter" CDs, and he's played with a wide variety of musicians ranging from free jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins to Jewel. Ross creates a rich yet understated timbre, often opting for long, suspended chords and country textures. But he's also given at times to unleashing volatile outbursts of sonic mayhem-blood-curdling screams and cries. Gibbs has played with musicians as varied as Henry Rollins and Defunkt. He plays funky, but not in the conventional slap-bass manner, often more concerned with sound than,virtuosity; his big ominous bass skulks around Ross' serpentine guitar lines while also providing cushions of thick chords. Lewis, the original drummer for Living Color, drives the ensemble with his sinewy polyrhythms.

Despite the members' lineage, Harriet Tubman seldom engages in the boorish arena rock or useless avant-garde posturing that often obscures inferior compositions. Sure, there are snippets of artsy interludes on songs like "Take Out" and "Iridescent Shark-Skin Suit/' as well as hardcore jollies on "Hards Dry" and "2 Man Army,'; but for the most part, Harriet Tubman exudes a musical sophistication that's in Knitting Factory's tradition of cerebral jam sessions, yet not too rigidly defined by that aesthetic. I Am a Man transcends the bulk of Knitting Factory albums because the music is so beautiful"Iy orchestrated and executed. On the' extended composition "Savannah," the trio initially diPs into some Southern comfort, with Ross pensively stating the melody; his blues-inflected lyricism is shortly interspersed with a scraping sampled riff that evokes the Delta As Ross' solo grows more menacing atop Gibbs' bubbling bass, Lewis pushes the music with muscular drumming.

The group creates an intriguing sense of tension during some of Ross' more meditative performances. On the smoldering 'Where We Stand,'· Gibbs' bass defines the tempo, while Lewis' frenetic drumming provides more textural coloring than rhythmic thrust for Ross' introspective melody.

... The group has upped the ante on the black-rock movement with an enticing debut that's not nearly as self-conscious as, say, Living .Colour. Instead of trying to infuse 360 degrees of blackness in every song, Harriet Tubman simply writes delightful songs. And solid songwriting is what makes rock music endure. - CP

• The East Bay~ Free Weekly


The power trio refuses to die, as documented by this superb disc, which captures the passionate and majestic sound of guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer J.T.lewis. Resumes include work with the Rollins Band and Henry Threadgill; Harriet Tubman recalls early.'70s· fusion"-back when the music had teeth and was as controverslal (and mistrusted) as "punk rock" was in the 80's. Lewis sounds like he's bashing his kit with sticks as big as telephone poles, and Ross draws from Hendrix, and Bill Frisell, Albert King, and Roxy Music/Eno alumnus Phil Manzaner~ while sounding like no one else. This music both floats and burns, balancing cathartic fury with sensuous, free-floating textures,· Highly recommended, especially for guitar-heads and those who think jazz players can't be as visceral as rockers. - Mark Keresman

CDNOW : Items: Harriet Tubman: I Am A Man: tracks

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Harriet Tubman

I Am a Man (Knitting Factory)

Alternating between the steam rolling heat of backbeat-driven funk and a genuinely sultry, spacey sound, this threesome of guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer J.T. Lewis creates a heady, authentic and intransigent brand of underground jazz/rock on this debut.

I Am a Man qualifies Harriet Tubman as a leading contender in the "this is what Jimi Hendrix would be into now, had he lived" sweepstakes. Much of this thickly textured, all-instrumental set springs from the kind of leisurely, extended workouts Hendrix made an integral part of his magnum opus Electric Lady Land.

Ross, who has been heard in such diverse bands as Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus and John Lurie's Lounge Lizards, has ethereal tonal coloration and sinuous phrasing down cold, while the crisp drumming of Lewis captures -- and often exceeds -- the military snap that made Mitch Mitchell the perfect rhythmic foil to Hendrix in the Experience. And although Gibbs mainly confines himself to a subsidiary role on Man, he has the imagination and chops to make every note he plays count and resonate loudly.

Harriet Tubman is at its best when these players stretch out and let inspiration flow, as it does to excellent effect on the lengthy "Savannah."

I Am a Man would have been a better record had the whole thing been programmed as a variablespeed, nonstop suite. But overall, this is one helluva fine band with plenty to say and the skill to say it convincingly.

David Prince - Various Music Journals


"Ascension" - 2009 Karlrecords Harriet Tubman Double Trio
"Prototype" - 2000 Avant Records
"I Am A Man" 1998 SlaveNo Mo' Records (iTunes)

"I Am A Man" available on iTunes (internationally)



Harriet Tubman: the band
This experimental soul/rock trio from Brooklyn counts Jimi Hendrix, Ornette Coleman, and Parliment-Funkadelic as contributors to its musical DNA. Between them guitarist and singer Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and Drummer JT Lewis have collaborated with artists as diverse as Cassandra Wilson, Living Colour, Lou Reed, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Arrested Development, the Rollins Band, and Me’Shell N’degeocello. Their own sound is pure and liberated musical expression—a deep and soulful meditation on the concept of freedom.
Harriet Tubman formed in 1998 when drummer J.T. Lewis, guitarist Brandon Ross and bassist Melvin Gibbs came together to start a band with meaning. Named after the heroic African-American slave who risked her life to escape from slavery and help more than 300 others to do the same, Harriet Tubman is deeply inspired by the ideals of freedom. The trio’s music -- a fusion of soul, rock, jazz, and blues -- examines the depths of these genres for their own unique liberated musical expression.

Mitch Myers of Amazon raves that Harriet Tubman is “a mind-melting display of inspired instrumental discourse between three very accomplished musicians… a power trio unlike any other.”

Integrating sampling and other digital methods into a compelling jazz-rock sound, Harriet Tubman looks back to the pioneering spirit of jazz. Re-contextualizing musical technology to create innovative compositions is an important part of the African-American tradition, and the trio sees Harriet Tubman as their contribution to that tradition. Always looking to musical history for meaning and inspiration, Lewis, Ross, and Gibbs present their music as a continuation of the musical innovation exhibited by such diverse artists as Ornette Coleman, Jimi Hendrix, Derrick May, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Parliament-Funkadelic.

On their place in the musical 'gene' scene the band notes, “We feel that our choice to perform Open Music has a value and relevance that connects with a re-awakening, a new search for restored meaning that we see and experience wherever and whenever we perform. Our music does not dictate through genre, or demographic, how one ‘should’ relate to it.” Not just musical philosophers, Lewis, Ross, and Gibbs are truly talented musicians. Music blog Bold as Love praises: “These three are consummate musicians who are at the top of their game. You can immediately tell when you are watching people who have mastered their craft: There’s an effortless responsiveness to the shifts in the music and to each other that say loud and clear that these people are doing something special.” The band has released two albums, 1998’s I Am A Man and Prototype in 2006. Harriet Tubman plans to release its third album, “Ascension” by Harriet Tubman Dub-ill 3rio( LIVE), May 2009 on Karlrecords, Germany. _