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Greater Than the Sum of His Parts

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Editors’ Notes

This four-part retrospective features Eddie Harris’s early albums for Atlantic: 1965’s The In Sound, the 1966 follow-ups Mean Greens and The Tender Storm, and his 1968 effort Silver Cycles. The music here tracks the key transition in the saxophonist’s career, as he moves away the clean and traditional post-bop of “Love for Sale” toward the extraterrestrial experimentation of “Silver Cycles.” The early half of this collection shows Harris excelling at a particular blend of a soul-jazz: think John Coltrane in a James Brown context. As great as that stage still sounds, Harris didn’t really come into his own until he uncovered the possibilities of running his sax through effects pedals, like Hendrix and Clapton were doing with their guitars. Between the cocktail fun of Harris' mid-'60s work and the acid trips of his late-'60s output, the through line is his sound. Whether he was playing straight or using effects, he always achieved a rich and resonant tone. Further explorations of sonic and spatial palettes would become his musical mission in the following decade.

Biography

Born: October 20, 1934 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Long underrated in the pantheon of jazz greats, Eddie Harris 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 more commercially successful ventures. Harris' tastes ranged across the spectrum of black music, not all of which was deemed acceptable by jazz purists. He had the chops to handle technically demanding bop, and the...
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Greater Than the Sum of His Parts, Eddie Harris
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