Jazz CD Reviews
Gene Harris Quartet – Live in London – Resonance Heirloom
Published on April 8, 2008
(Gene Harris, piano; Jim Mullen, guitar; Martin Drew, drums; Andrew Cleyndert, bass)
This is the initial release from a new jazz label founded by longtime jazz producer George Klabin. (We have an interview feature from him this month.) It showcases the late pianist’s European band in 1996 and none of these tracks have ever been released before. The album was to have been on Concord Records but then in 2000 Harris died of kidney failure and it went to the back burner. Due to the efforts of Klabin in setting up the new label and the cooperation of Harris’ widow Janie, the recordings are now seeing the light of day.
Harris, a Michigan native, came to renown as the pianist in The Three Sounds. He played a variety of music during his career, but was always highly regarded in the jazz world. He toured widely, even following semiretirement to Boise, Idaho, and has a discography of over 80 recordings. Erroll Garner and Art Tatum were two of his style influences.
Most of the half dozen tracks of the new CD allow Harris and his sidemen to stretch out luxuriously. The opener is over 13 minutes and is distinguished by guitarist Jim Mullen’s long string of brief quotations which may drive you nuts trying to identify. Thruout the album Harris’ mixture of soul, blues and hard swinging that made his style a favorite of so many listeners is in strong evidence. Sonics are very open and the non-annoying presence of the live audience adds a real excitement to the whole event.
1. There Is No Greater Love (Symes, Jones) 13:26
2. Blue Monk (Monk) 11:18
3. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers, Hart) 6:08
4. In a Mellow Tone (Ellington) 15:18
5. Misty (Erroll Garner) 9:07
6. Blues Closer (Gene Harris) 7:22
- John Henry