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Big Band Soul

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Album Review

The vast majority of Gene Harris' Concord albums of the '80s and '90s were small-group efforts, which is probably just as well because the acoustic pianist had more room to stretch out and improvise when he was leading a trio, quartet, or quintet. But Harris did have a chance to oversee a big band when he led the Philip Morris Superband in the late '80s and early '90s. In 2002, Concord reissued Harris' two albums with the Superband — Live at Town Hall, N.Y.C. and World Tour 1990 — as the double-CD Big Band Soul. While Live at Town Hall, N.Y.C. was recorded at a New York concert in 1989, World Tour 1990 was recorded in a Sydney, Australia, studio the following year. Despite the fact that one is a live album and the other is a studio date, the albums are quite similar. Both favor arrangements that are very mindful of Count Basie, and both are enjoyable even if they are rather staid and fall short of essential. Nonetheless, there are some noteworthy soloists on this two-CD set, including tenor man James Moody on "Old Man River," trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison on "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," and alto saxophonist Jerry Dodgion on Duke Ellington's "Warm Valley" (which finds the saxman paying tribute to longtime Ellington altoist Johnny Hodges). Vocalists, thankfully, are not excluded; Ernie Andrews has some pleasing spots on "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and "I'm Just a Lucky So and So," while Ernestine Anderson is featured on "There Is No Greater Love" and "You're My Everything." Big Band Soul isn't recommended to casual listeners, but serious collectors will want to hear this double-CD (assuming they haven't already purchased the two albums separately).

Customer Reviews

Bright, Bouncy and Brassy!

This Is an outstanding group of musicians. They sound very much like the Count Basie Orchestra.....only better! Gene Harris has a much more pronounced presence with his big band behind him than The Count. There are so many wonderful tunes on this CD. I am particularly fond of "Do you Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans" but all the songs are swinging and brassy. Get it and sit back and enjoy it....I guarantee it!


Born: September 1, 1933 in Benton Harbor, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

One of the most accessible of all jazz pianists, Gene Harris' soulful style (influenced by Oscar Peterson and containing the blues-iness of a Junior Mance) was immediately likable and predictably excellent. After playing in an Army band (1951-1954), he formed a trio with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Bill Dowdy which was, by 1956, known as the Three Sounds. The group was quite popular, and recorded regularly during 1956-1970 for Blue Note and Verve. Although the personnel changed and the music...
Full Bio
Big Band Soul, Gene Harris
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  • $19.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Big Band
  • Released: Jan 01, 2002

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