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Eddie Harris

Eddie had always wanted to play the saxophone simply because he admired its design and the way it looked. But in order to play saxophone for Captain Dyette, the aspiring musician had to plat the clarinet. He took private clarinet and saxophone lessons for many years. As his playing improved, Eddie began his saxophone career playing with all types of bands. Captain Dyette retired in his mid-sixties and passed away in his mid-seventies. In the late 50's Eddie was drafted into the Army. While in the Army, he took an audition test for the Army band which included reading music, ear training, written phrases and command of the chosen instrument, Eddie scored a 98 out of 100. This score was so high that he was recommended to join the symphony orchestra in Germany.

Eddie was posted to Germany because his orders were already processed. When he arrived overseas he found the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra to be filled, so he was placed in the Army band in Fulda, Germany where he stayed for eight months. Shortly thereafter, he played with the symphony. A jazz band had been formed from this symphony that toured Germany, France and the rest of Europe when the entire symphony was idle. It wa this experience that honed Eddie's skills. Eddie toured Germany and France as a member of the Seventh Army Symphony Band where soon Eddie became internationally known. He also took classical saxophone lessons at the Paris Conservatory of Music before he returned to the United States.

Eddie met his wife, Sally in 1959. They were united in marriage on May 22, 1961. From this union came two daughters, Lolita and Yvonne. Eddie made his first recording with Vee-Jay Recording Co., in 1960. The jazz world felt the force of Eddie's impact in 1961, when one of the tunes was the first jazz single to sell one million copies. Eddie began recording with other record companies including Columbia, RCA and Atlantic Records. In the early to mid-sixties Eddie started playing the tenor saxophone with a trombone mouthpiece. A year later he began using a clarinet double barred joint in between the neck and instrument of the saxophone. He then began playing saxophone with a bassoon reed that had a shortened boccel inserted into the neck of the saxophone.

While recording with Atlantic Records, Eddie was the first musician to introduce electro Voice Creation for the Selmer Instrument Company. This electrical attachment for the saxophone is call ed the Varitone. Since then, he has played his electric saxophone on most of the tunes that he recorded for Atlantic Records. Some of his most popular albums include: “Electrifying Eddie Harris,” “High Voltage,” “Silver Cycles,” “The In Sound,” “Come On Down,” “Swiss Movement” and “Free Speech.”

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Radio & Podcasts

Eddie Harris: Harmonic Genius

Read "Eddie Harris: Harmonic Genius" reviewed by David Brown

Long underrated in the pantheon of jazz greats, Eddie Harris (born 1943; died 1996) was an eclectic and imaginative saxophonist whose career was marked by a hearty appetite for experimentation. For quite some time, he was far more popular with audiences than with critics, many of whom denigrated him for his jazz-pop, rock-and funk- influenced fusion, outside improvisations, bizarre electronic effects, new crossbreeding of traditional instruments, blues crooning, and even comedy. Look him up. Needless to say, I buy EH ...

Radio & Podcasts

Eddie Harris - Harmonic Genius, solos form Jeff Parker & Patrick Shiroisk, and Christian McBride

Read "Eddie Harris - Harmonic Genius, solos form Jeff Parker & Patrick Shiroisk, and Christian McBride" reviewed by David Brown

Multi-layered solo works from Jeff Parker and Patrick Shiroishi, quartets & big bands from both Jared Schonig & Toshiko Akiyoshi; then a tribute to harmonic genius Eddie Harris; and finally, Christian McBride in Trio, and the Inside Straight. Welcome friends and neighbors to The Jazz Continuum. Old, new, in, out... wherever the music takes us. Each week, we will explore the elements of jazz from a historical perspective. Playlist Petter Eldh “Kali Koma" from Koma Saxo (We Jazz ...

Radio & Podcasts

Eddie Who: Michael Blake's Tribute to Eddie Harris

Read "Eddie Who: Michael Blake's Tribute to Eddie Harris" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu

The latest project by veteran saxophonist Michael Blake and his long-time collaborators Clark Gayton on trombone and Tony Mason on drums is a heart-felt tribute to the legendary Eddie Harris. This mixtape features five tunes by Eddie Harris cherry-picked by Michael Blake mixed with music by Michael Blake selected by Mondo Jazz. Happy listening! Playlist Michael Blake “Afro Blake" Drift (Intuition) 0:00 Eddie Harris “Shamtime" The Electrifying Eddie Harris (Atlantic) 6:53 Slow ...

Album Review

Eddie Harris: A Tale Of Two Cities

Read "A Tale Of Two Cities" reviewed by Jim Santella

One classic album that features two soulful performances by Eddie Harris in a nightclub setting, A Tale of Two Cities represents the artist at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco in 1978 and at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase in Chicago in 1983. Joel Dorn has elected to debut Hyena with four 'live' memories, from Eddie Harris, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Les McCann, and Cannonball Adderley. Who could ask for anything more?

Harris works his tenor saxophone with a vocal-like ...

Album Review

Eddie Harris & Les McCann: Second Movement

Read "Second Movement" reviewed by AAJ Staff

After Eddie Harris and Les McCann recorded the legendary album, Swiss Movement, they didn't rest on their laurels. Nor did they go their separate ways.They recorded another album, Second Movement. However, Second Movement never has been available on CD until now, now that Label M's Joel Dorn has revisited that session with yet another valuable release on the new label.While Swiss Movement was recorded live before a cheering and vocally appreciative audience at Montreaux, Second Movement ...

Album Review

Eddie Harris: Greater Than The Sum Of His Parts

Read "Greater Than The Sum Of His Parts" reviewed by Douglas Payne

Chicago tenor man Eddie Harris (1934-1996) already had nearly a dozen albums and one huge hit single ("Exodus") to his credit when he signed to Atlantic Records in 1965. Over the following 12 years, Atlantic released more than 20 Eddie Harris records. Some of these were innovative (1967's The Electrifying Eddie Harris and 1974's Is It In ), some were sublime (1970's Come On Down, 1973's Excursions and 1976's How Can You Live Like That? ), some were hits (1969's ...

Album Review

Eddie Harris Quartet: Freedom Jazz Dance

Read "Freedom Jazz Dance" reviewed by Rick Bruner

This was one of the legendary tenor saxophonist’s final recording sessions before his death on November 5, 1996. Recorded in 1994 with a marvelous quartet, Freedom Jazz Dance is a portrait of a musical titan with his creative muse in full bloom. His immediately recognizable sound is beautifully showcased on this disc.

The title tune is Eddie Harris’ most famous composition and he wails as only he can, supported by the great drumming of Billy Hart, George Mraz on bass ...

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