BARRY HARRIS at The Jazz Workshop
Barry Harris (p) Sam Jones (b) Louis Hayes (drs)
Recorded ‘live’ at The Jazz Workshop, San Francisco; May 15 and 16, 1960
1. Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby(5:31) (Louis Hayes)
2. Curtain Call (3:41) (Barry Harris)
3. Star Eyes (4:39) (Raye – De Paul)
4. Moose the Mooche (6:06) (Charlie Parker)
1. Lolita (3:53) (Barry Harris)
2. Morning Coffee (4:45) (Barry Harris)
3. Don’t Blame Me (5:04) (Fields – McHugh)
4. Woody’n You (4:43) (Dizzy Gillespie)
To any observer of the current jazz scene, two facts about Detroit musicians stand out sharply. One is that in recent years there has been a remarkably heavy and steady flow of jazz talent surging out of that city (a quick and undoubtedly incomplete list would include Pepper Adams, Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers, Yusef Lateef, Curtis Fuller, Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan, the Jones brothers – Hank Thad and Elvin; and so on). The second fact is that just about every such Detroiter will on the slightest provocation or even with no real excuse at all, rave on at length about the very considerable abilities and strong influence, both musical and personal, of a pianist, named BARRY HARRIS.
After a while, Barry Harris began to take on the qualities of a myth, and since he only rarely and fleetingly left Detroit, most people had no opportunity to check legend against facts. So one could be pardoned for a growing belief that either (a) there was no Barry Harris, or (b) he was at least middle-aged and (c) couldn’t possibly live up to his verbal reputation.
Then, early in 1960, Cannonball Addelrey made a telephone call to Detroit. He was in need of a replace-man for his quintet’s original pianist, Bobby Timmons. Barry accepted the job, and the myth was blown away. Harris stood revealed as a small, somewhat graying (but quite prematurely: he was barely thirty years old!) human being. But one key fact remained – he had every bit as much to say on the piano as had been claimed for him.
This album offers quite a bit of testimony to that effect. It was recorded after Barry had had about three months in which to succeed in meshing fully with his two superb colleagues in the Addelrey rhythm section, SAM JONES and LOUIS HAYES (the latter, incidentally, being still another young comer form Detroit), who provide his backing here. I was also, by deliberate choice, recorded as a ‘live’ performance during the Adderley band’s return engagement at The Jazz Workshop, scene of their triumphantly best-selling first album – The Cannnoball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco. And the enthusiastic response to the pianist’s work on the part of the very hip Workshop audience, which can be heard on these grooves, suggests strongly that this club will be something of a lucky-piece for Barry, too.
This debut album for Riverside showcase his basically lyrical and thoroughly swinging style in an impressively varied repertoire. There are three Harris originals: Curtain Call, a catchily-Latinish Lolita, and Morning Coffee (the latter a blues titled in honor of what is about the only available beverage in San Francisco after the two-in-the-morning closing time). There is a highly funky version of Louis Jordan’s one-time pop hit, Is You Is . . . (one of several tunes to feature brilliant Sam Jones bass solos); a rich ballad treatment of Don’t Blame Me; another effective touch of Latin rhythms on Star Eyes; and two notable tunes by modern jazz giants: Dizzy Gillespie’s Woody’n You and Parker’s Moose the Mooche.
Barry was born in Detroit in December of 1929; his mother was a church pianist from whom he learned his first piano piece (a church tune) at the age of four. After this early start came private study and then the high school band, with a growing interest in jazz dating from about 1944. Not too long thereafter he won first prize in an amateur show at the local Paradise Theater, solidifying his decision to turn pro. Over the next several years Barry developed into the city’s top piano man, working with such native talent as Thad Jones and Billy Mitchell, and playing on the Detroit engagements of such passers-through as Lester Young, Lee Konitz and Sonny Stitt. In the early ‘50s he worked locally with Miles Davis for about three months. And for one memorable set one night he sat in with Charlie Parker – whom Harris names, along with piano greats Art Tatum and Bud Powell, as the most important formative influences on his style.
It was during these same years that Barry also became a focal point for the Motor City’s younger-set jazz activity. As he explains it, his very sympathetic mother had a lot to do with making it possible for musicians like Adams, Chambers, Doug Watkins and such, all of whom had grown up with Barry, to come to the Harris house to play at almost any hour. (This would also seem a good place for me to head Barry’s request to clear up a rather widespread misconception that he “taught” pianist Tommy Flanagan. Pointing out that Flanagan and he are almost the same age, Barry adds that “Tommy was wailing at 14 or 15, way ahead of me.”)
Harris left Detroit only once – for three months on the road with Max Roach in ’56 – before Adderley’s call. When asked why he had suddenly broken his anti-travel pattern, Barry noted that he had long admired Cannonball and the others and had known Lou Hayes in Detroit, but then just shrugged and added: “I don’t really know why, except that I just figured it was time.” On listening to this album, I think a lot of people are going to agree that it certainly is time for Barry Harris!
Harris can also be heard on Riverside on –
Them Dirty Blues: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-322; also Stereo RLP 1170)
The Other Side of BENNY GOLSON; with Curtis Fuller, Philly Joe Jones (RLP 12-290)
Sam Jones, playing both cello and bass, heads an all-star group on –
The Soul Society: SAM JONES, with Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchell, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Heath (RLP 12-324; also Stereo RLP 1172)
Jones and Lou Hayes are heard together on the Cannonball and Sam Jones albums listed above and also on such LPs as –
The CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet in San Francisco (RLP 12-311; also Stereo RLP 1157)
Work Song: NAT ADDERLEY, with Wes Montgomery (RLP 12-318; also Stereo RLP 1167)
This recording is also available in Stereophonic form on RLP 1177)
Produced and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Photographs by JERRY STOLL
Recording Engineer: WALLY HEIDER
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.