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About James Harris
A drummer based out of Philadelphia, this artist may have come to be known as James "Coatsville" Harris simply because this would be a hometown where owning a coat would be a priority. Then again, it might have been something Harris used to like to do with his coat that garnered him this distinction. Clues could possibly exist in the taped recollections of New Orleans jazz bandleader Louis Armstrong, the drummer's most famous employer. However, these hundreds of hours of musings have only been made available to scholars on a limited basis, since no proper solution for releasing the tapes in their entirety has been acceptable to date.
Armstrong does indeed mention Harris as he rambles on his home tapings -- in particular, an incident when the drummer won nearly a grand off his boss in a dice game has been cited by jazz writer Gary Giddins in reference to the dangers of one-upmanship. Sticking to just plain statistics, discographer Tom Lord puts the drummer at close to a dozen recording sessions between the early '40s and the late '50s. Harris also hung his coat in the studio closet for country blues and R&B sessions, including tracks with harmonica wizard Sonny Terry. Of lurid interest to anyone fascinated with the name Jimmy Harris would be the fact that R&B bandleader Roy Brown employed not only this drummer but a pianist of the same name, sometimes at the same time. ~ Eugene Chadbourne