All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

446

Gene Harris: Live in London

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Gene Harris (1933-2000) was the master of blues in jazz. A self-proclaimed "blues pianist with chops," Harris could sting the most un-blues-like melody and make it sound like it was written by Meade Lux Lewis and performed by Oscar Peterson. Since Harris' death in 2000, posthumous releases of previously unreleased performances have been steady but sparse. These include: Live at Otter Crest (Concord Jazz, 2001), Instant Party (Concord Jazz, 2004), and now Live in London.

Documenting a 1996 London performance with a local rhythm section, Live in London find Harris at his most exuberant. The set begins with an expansive "No Greater Love," with Harris introducing the piece with a length legato prelude before turning the tempo upside-down, giving the ballad the momentum of a freight train, albeit a happy one. Guitarist Jim Mullen sounds more rock than jazz, but does manage a clever Mozart quote ("allegro molto," from the "Symphony 40 in G minor") and several cartoon soundtrack quotes.

An up-tempo "Blue Monk" provides Harris his first of three blues venues, allowing him and guitarist Mullen to display their considerable chops. This is where Harris is most at home, a steady romp through those twelve bars with a smile as big and fresh as his Idaho home. "My Funny Valentine" displays Harris invention in approaching a melody from the bottom side up in the same way as Erroll Garner in his salad days.

The recital center point is the fifteen-minute "In a Mellow Tone." Harris, who states that he never plans set lists or performances, effectively conjures this Ellington chestnut out of thin air, employing the same introduction paradigm he used on "Valentine." He reveals the song covertly and then overtly. Harris uses his great sense of drama to build upon the melody, chorus by chorus, until he achieves the maximus of his orchestral style.

Harris salutes Garner with a sensitive "Misty" before closing things with, what else, a blues appropriately entitled "Blues Closer." The Resonance Records website sports a brief interview with Harris where the pianist is revealed as a smiling, amiable giant interested only in playing music. One must believe that there is much more unreleased Gene Harris out there to celebrate.


Track Listing: No Greater Love; Blue Monk; My Funny Valentine; In a Mellow Tone; Misty; Blues Closer.

Personnel: Gene Harris: piano; Jim Mullen: guitar; Andrew Clyendert: bass; Martin Drew: drums.

Title: Live In London | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Resonance Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Sweet Georgia Brown

Sweet Georgia Brown

Gene Harris
Another Night In London

Blue Monk

Blue Monk

Gene Harris
Live In London

CD/LP/Track Review
Building a Jazz Library
Read more articles
Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968

Groovin’ Hard -...

Resonance Records
2017

buy
Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968

Groovin' Hard: Live...

Resonance Records
2017

buy
Another Night In London

Another Night In...

Resonance Records
2010

buy
Live In London

Live In London

Resonance Records
2008

buy
At Last

At Last

Concord Music Group
2004

buy

Related Articles

Read Love & Peace CD/LP/Track Review
Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read La Saboteuse CD/LP/Track Review
La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Memories of Maynard CD/LP/Track Review
Memories of Maynard
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Playground CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Playground
by Don Phipps
Published: February 20, 2018
Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Avenida Graham" CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "L.O.T.U.S." CD/LP/Track Review L.O.T.U.S.
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Unleashed" CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Pandora's Bag" CD/LP/Track Review Pandora's Bag
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Najwa" CD/LP/Track Review Najwa
by John Sharpe
Published: November 29, 2017