Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Gene Harris Trio Plus One [Stanley Turrentine]

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“The reemergence of pianist Gene Harris on the jazz scene is one of the musical delights of the past two years. Gene is best remembered for his work with the popular Three Sounds, which he formed in 1956. The group disbanded in 1973, and after some commercial electronic ventures, Harris settled in Boise, Idaho, where he has been directing the music at the Idanha Hotel. Ray Brown was instrumental in prying Gene out of Boise, collaborating with the pianist on several dates.

On The Gene Harris Trio Plus One [Concord CCD-4303], his debut recording as a leader for Concord, Gene Harris is joined by the dynamic Stanley Turrentine, who had not played with Gene since a 1960 recording with the Three Sounds. This auspicious reunion is enhanced by the impeccable rhythm team of Ray Brown and Mickey Roker. A lively and demonstrative audience at the Blue Note in New York lends a party atmosphere to this live date. "I like recording live, particularly in clubs, where they're right on top of you," Gene notes. "There's constant interaction between the musicians and audience. At the Blue Note, you could feel the electricity in the air." And the super-charged music which resulted cuts across all stylistic and aesthetic boundaries.

Harris's style is a fascinating personal amalgam of varied influences. Having assimilated the two-handed blues and boogie of early idols Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, and Freddie Slack, he added the fluidity of Oscar Peterson, and seasoned the mixture with a hint of Erroll Garner's timing and sly humor. Above all, Harris is a master of the blues, with the tools and imagination to weave endless variations on that timeless and universal pattern.

Stanley Turrentine is the perfect partner for Harris's blues explorations, as is immediately evident on Ray Brown's composition, Uptown Sop is another Ray Brown blues on which  a 24-bar framework is used. Turrentine wails from bar one of his five solo choruses. After two romping choruses by Harris, Turrentine returns, gradually cooling things down to end the piece.” [drawn from Ed Berger’s insert notes to the CD].

It’s an electrifying track which indicates all the reasons why Ray Brown tracked down Gene Harris and returned him to the national Jazz scene in a trio that he maintained along with Jeff Hamilton on drums that played together for the rest of the decade of the 1980s.

We included Uptown Sop on an earlier video tribute to Stanley Turrentine and return it here for you to enjoy as a remembrance of how much excitement Stanley, Gene, Ray and Mickey Roker on drums could generate performing the blues in an intimate club setting.

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