My editor at JazzTimes, the fearless Evan Haga, saw the Joel Harrison 19 on Wednesday night, the night after I did. Seems like he caught more of a homerun set than I did, based on this Facebook squib from yesterday:
The Joel Harrison 19 sounded tremendous last night at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola—advanced but accessible modern big-band music performed by some of NYC's best.
"Advanced but accessible" is a good way to put it. There was little about Harrison's writing that felt forbidding, aesthetically speaking, or unduly academic. Which is one reason I was slightly bummed by the headline on the Times review. (I've said it before but it bears repeating every now and again: critics at the paper have no say — none — in the hed. We usually only see it when the piece goes live.)
No reason to rearticulate my other mixed feelings about the set, which I really enjoyed overall. I hope the big band is one more format that Harrison continues to explore.