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Killer Joe

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Album Review

Joe Harriott is best remembered for his avant-garde/free jazz explorations of the '60s which found him playing music similar to but not overly derivative of Ornette Coleman, and for his mixture of jazz with Indian music. This double-CD, however, is much different. Consisting of Harriott's earliest recordings as a leader plus his significant sideman appearances with Buddy Pipp's Highlifers, Kenny Baker's Jazz Today Unit, singer Lita Roza and the Ronnie Scott Orchestra, Harriott is featured between 1954-1956 as a boppish altoist who was definitely under the influence of Charlie Parker and (tonewise) Sonny Criss. He is featured with several quartets, in Scott's big band, a few medium-size groups, and even with a string section (sounding like Bird with Strings) on "I'll Remember April" and "Easy to Love." The ten-minute "Blues in Threes" by trumpeter Kenny Baker's all-star group matches Harriott with fellow altoists Bruce Turner and Bertie King in a similar fashion as Charlie Parker's studio jam session encounter with Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter. The only thing wrong with this well-conceived reissue of rare material is its title, since Benny Golson's "Killer Joe" had not been written yet. The subtitle, "Birth of a Legend," sums up this retrospective better. Well worth searching for.


Born: 15 July 1928 in Jamaica

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Joe Harriott's music goes virtually unheard today, yet the alto saxophonist exerted a powerful influence on early free jazz in England. The Jamaican-born and raised Harriott played with his countrymen, trumpeter Dizzy Reece and tenor saxophonist Wilton "Bogey" Gaynair, before emigrating to England in 1951. In London, Harriott worked freelance and in the band of trumpeter Pete Pitterson. In 1954, he landed an important gig with drummer Tony Kinsey; the next year he played in saxophonist Ronnie Scott's...
Full bio
Killer Joe, Joe Harriott
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  • 15,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 26 February 2007

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