Half Notes: Barry Harris – Live In Rennes (2010)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Like James Moody and Benny Golson, Barry Harris is a fine, old-school performer with a few standards under his belt and whom I was pleasantly surprised to find is still making viable records. Having a long legacy from 1960 on playing alongside greats such as Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and Max Roach, Harris has become a major bop figure himself. Live In Rennes is a recent live performance Harris did in France, supported by Mathias Allamane (acoustic bass) and Philippe Soirat (drums). Harris is clearly relaxed and enjoying his role as a jazz elder statesmen, paying tribute to the greats before him in introductory comments and playing their songs (“To Duke With Love/Prelude To A Kiss”) and even getting the audience to participate on a tune (“6,5,7,3”). His piano style, unmistakably derived from Bud Powell but still his own, is genteel and confident in a way that’s often missing from the younger generation of piano players. Thank goodness we still have Barry Harris to show us on live documents like Live In Rennes how it was done then and should be done more today.


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