born on 15/12/1929 in Detroit, MI, United States
died on 8/12/2021 in Weehawken, NJ, United States
- For the Canadian musician, see Barry Harris (Canadian musician).
Barry Doyle Harris (born December 15, 1929) is an American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator. He is an exponent of the bebop style.
Early life and career
Harris began learning the piano at the age of four. His mother was a church pianist and had asked if Harris was interested in playing church or jazz music. Having picked jazz, he was influenced by Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell's music. He went to public areas to play dances for clubs and ballrooms. Harris learned the bebop styles largely by ear, imitating the solos played by Bud Powell in his teenage years.
Later life and career
Harris was based in Detroit through the 1950s and worked with musicians such as Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt and Thad Jones. He also performed in place of Junior Mance, who was Gene Ammons's regular pianist for his group frequently. In addition, Harris toured with Max Roach briefly in 1956 as a pianist after the group's resident pianist Richie Powell (younger brother of Bud Powell) died in a car crash.
Harris relocated to New York City in 1960, where he became a performer as well as a jazz educator. During his time in New York, Harris collaborated with Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, Yusef Lateef and Hank Mobley through performances and recordings.
During the 1970s, Harris lived with Monk at the Weehawken, New Jersey home of the jazz patroness Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, and so was in an excellent position to comment on the last years of his fellow pianist.
Harris also sat in for Monk for rehearsals at the New York Jazz Repertory Company in 1974.
By the mid-1970s, Harris and his band members gave concerts in European cities and Japan. In Japan, he performed at the Yubin Chokin concert hall in Tokyo over two days and his performance were recorded and compiled into an album released by Xanadu Records.
Between 1982 and 1987, Harris took charge of the Jazz Cultural Workshop on the 8th Avenue in New York.
Since the 1990s, Harris has collaborated with Toronto-based pianist and teacher Howard Rees in creating a series of videos and workbooks documenting his unique harmonic and improvisational systems and teaching process.
In 2000, he was profiled in the film Barry Harris - Spirit of Bebop.
Harris continues to perform and teach worldwide. When he is not traveling, he holds weekly music workshop sessions in New York City for vocalists, students of piano and other instruments.
Harris has recorded 19 albums as a lead artist.
Jazz Cultural Theater
Larry Ridley, Barry Harris, Jim Harrison, and Frank Fuentes were partners in creating the Jazz Cultural Theater beginning 1982. Located at 368 Eighth Avenue in New York City in a storefront between 28th and 29th Streets in Manhattan, it was primarily a performance venue featuring prominent jazz artists and also hosted jam sessions. Additionally, it was known for Barry's music classes for vocalists and instrumentalists, each taught in separate sessions. Several artists recorded albums at the club, including Barry on his For the Moment. Some of the many musicians and notable jazz figures who appeared at the Jazz Cultural Theater were bassist Larry Ridley, guitarist Ted Dunbar, pianist Jack Wilson, trumpeter Bill Hardman, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, trumpeter Tommy Turrentine, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, pianist Mickey Tucker, guitarist Peter Leitch, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, guitarist Mark Elf, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, drummer Leroy Williams, drummer Vernel Fournier, bassist Hal Dotson, bassist Jamil Nasser, pianist Chris Anderson, pianist Walter Davis, Jr., pianist Michael Weiss, tap dancers Lon Chaney and Jimmy Slyde, Francis Paudras (biographer of pianist Bud Powell), and the renowned jazz patroness Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who would park her silver Bentley sedan in front of the club.
The Jazz Cultural Theater (JCT) enjoyed a vibrant five-year run until August 14, 1987, when its lease ran out and the rent was increased. Barry simply moved his jazz instrumental and vocal instructional classes to other venues in New York City, Japan, and Europe, supported by a devoted and ever growing international base of students. Many of them are now professionals, including Israeli-born, New York City-based jazz guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, Armenian bebop pianist Vahagn Hayrapetyan, Italian-born brothers Luigi (alto sax) and Pasquale Grasso (guitar).
Over many years Harris has developed a codified methodology and approach to the teaching of jazz. His approach, drawing primarily from the melodic and harmonic concepts/techniques utilized by Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, relies upon using the major and minor 6th chords and the octatonic scales (such as Bebop Major, Bebop Dorian, and Bebop Mixolydian, OR major 6th diminished, minor 6th diminished, and dominant seven, respectively) as a basis for creating melody and harmony.
The Bebop Major scale, for example, is a major scale with an extra note between the 5th and 6th scale degrees. A typical exercise using this scale involves playing a C Major 6th chord up the scale to a D diminished 7th chord, back to C Major 6th in first inversion, to D diminished 7th first inversion, to C Major 6th in second inversion, and so on, up the scale. Applying voicings, such as Drop 2 and Drop 3, up and down the scale in this way gives more possibilities for movement, as opposed to playing one static voicing when chording or "comping" through jazz tunes. The same concept applies as well to the minor 6th diminished scale. His concept of "borrowing notes," in which a related diminished note (or notes) is used in a major or minor 6th chord voicing and then resolved (or a major or minor 6th chord note is used in the related diminished 7th chord and then resolved) is an additional way of creating movement.
Harris also stresses the relationship of the major 6th chord to the minor 7th chord. Both share the same four notes and differ only by what note is considered the bass. The same relationship occurs between the minor 6th chord and the half-diminished 7th chord, that is, that C minor6 and A minor7b5 are almost interchangeable.
His approach to jazz harmony also relies heavily on diminished 7th chords and their relationship to dominant 7th chords. Utilizing the diminished 7th chord, he has also formulated scales of chords, which allow pianists and guitar players greater freedom in accompaniment and to play, in his own words, "movement, not chords".
His fundamental scale is the major 6th diminished scale, but equally important are the minor sixth to diminished, the dominant seventh to diminished, and the dominant seven flat five to diminished scale. Extending this concept, Barry relates all chord alterations (flat and sharp 9’s, sharp 11’s, flat 13’s, etc.) to the tritone's minor sixth-diminished scale (Ab minor 6th diminished scale for G7altered), which provides options for moving the alterations through the scales.
Harris can be heard and seen teaching the Major 6 diminished scale in this YouTube video of a 2008 clinic he conducted in Spain.
Frans Elsen took videos during several years of Barry Harris workshops at the Royal Conservatory of Music at the Hague. He edited them into 54 videos which he felt represent the techniques Harris taught in the Hague.
- 2000, American Jazz Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievements & Contributions to the World of Jazz
- 1998, Lifetime Achievements Award for Contributions to the Music World from the National Association of Negro Musicians
- 1998, Congratulatory Letter as a Jazz Musician and Educator by the U.S. White House
- 1997, Dizzy Gillespie Achievement Award
- 1997, Recognition of Excellence in Jazz Music and Education
- 1995, Doctor of Arts - Honorary Degree by Northwestern University
- 1995, Special Presidential Award Recognition of Dedication and Commitment to the Pursuance of Artistic Excellence in Jazz Performance and Education
- 1995, Honorary Jazz Award by the House of Representatives
- 1989, NEA Jazz Master
- "Seein' Red"
- "Morning Coffee"
- "Like this!"
- "Even Steven"
- "You Sweet and Fancy Lady"
- "Just Open Your Heart"
- "Sun Dance"
- "Fukai Aijo"
- "Looking Glass"
- "For the Moment"
- "That Secret Place"
- "Tommy's Ballad"
- "Cats in My Belfry"
- "The Bird of Red and Gold"
- "Around the Corner"
- "Stay right with it"
- "Bish, Bash, Bosh"
- "Bull's Eye"
- "Off Monk"
- "Oh so Basal"
- "Now and then"
- "Sweet Sewanee Blues"
- "And so I Love You"
- "With a Grain of Salt"
- "A Soft Spot"
- Breakin' It Up (Argo, 1958)
- Barry Harris at the Jazz Workshop (Riverside 1960)
- Preminado (Riverside, 1961)
- Listen to Barry Harris (Riverside, 1961)
- Newer Than New (Riverside, 1961)
- Chasin' the Bird (Riverside, 1962)
- Luminescence! (Prestige, 1967)
- Bull's Eye! (Prestige, 1968)
- Magnificent! (Prestige, 1969)
- Vicissitudes (MPS, 1972)
- Barry Harris Plays Tadd Dameron (Xanadu, 1975)
- Live in Tokyo (Xanadu, 1976)
- Barry Harris Plays Barry Harris (Xanadu, 1978)
- For the Moment (Uptown, 1984)
- The Bird of Red and Gold (Xanadu, 1989)
- Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Volume Twelve (Concord, 1990)
- Confirmation (Candid, 1991) with Kenny Barron
- Barry Harris in Spain (Nuba, 1991)
- Live At "Dug" (Enjia, 1995)
- First Time Ever (Evidence, 1997)
- The Last Time I Saw Paris (Venus Records, 2000)
- Live in New York (Reservoir, 2002)
- Live in Rennes (Plus Loin, 2009)
With Cannonball Adderley
- Them Dirty Blues (Riverside, 1960)
With Charlie Byrd
- Blues Sonata (Riverside, 1961)
With Donald Byrd
- Byrd Jazz (Transition, 1955) - also released as First Flight (Delmark)
With Al Cohn
- Play It Now (Xanadu, 1975)
- Al Cohn's America (Xanadu, 1976)
- No Problem (Xanadu, 1979)
With Sonny Criss
- Saturday Morning (Xanadu, 1975)
- 2 Trumpets (Prestige, 1956)
With Dan Faulk
- Focusing In (Criss Cross Jazz, 1992)
With Terry Gibbs
- Bopstacle Course (Xanadu, 1974)
With Benny Golson
- The Other Side of Benny Golson (Riverside, 1958)
With Dexter Gordon
- Clubhouse (Blue Note, 1965 - released 1979)
- Gettin' Around (Blue Note, 1965)
- The Tower of Power! (Prestige, 1969)
- More Power! (Prestige, 1969)
- True Blue - with Al Cohn (Xanadu, 1976)
- Silver Blue with Al Cohn (Xanadu, 1976)
- Biting the Apple (SteepleChase, 1976)
With Johnny Griffin
- White Gardenia (Riverside, 1961)
- The Kerry Dancers (Riverside, 1961–62)
With Coleman Hawkins
- Wrapped Tight (Impulse!, 1965)
With Louis Hayes
- Louis Hayes (Vee-Jay, 1960)
With Jimmy Heath
- Picture of Heath (Xanadu, 1975)
With Illinois Jacquet
- Bottoms Up (Prestige, 1968)
With Carmell Jones
- Jay Hawk Talk (Prestige, 1965)
With Thad Jones
- The Magnificent Thad Jones (Blue Note, 1956)
With Sam Jones
- Cello Again (Xanadu, 1975)
- Changes & Things (Xanadu, 1977)
With Clifford Jordan
- Repetition (Soul Note, 1984)
With Lee Konitz
- Lullaby of Birdland (Candid, 1991 )
With Harold Land
- West Coast Blues! (Jazzland, 1960)
With Yusef Lateef
- Eastern Sounds (Moodsville, 1960)
- Into Something (New Jazz, 1961)
- Suite 16 (Atlantic, 1970)
With Warne Marsh
- Back Home (Criss Cross Jazz, 1986)
With Earl May
- Swinging the Blues (Arbors, 2005)
With Charles McPherson
- Bebop Revisited! (Prestige, 1964)
- Con Alma! (Prestige, 1965)
- The Quintet/Live! (Prestige, 1966)
- McPherson's Mood (Prestige, 1969)
- Charles McPherson (Mainstream, 1971)
- Siku Ya Bibi (Day of the Lady) (Mainstream, 1972)
- Today's Man (Mainstream, 1973)
- Live in Tokyo (Xanadu, 1976)
With Billy Mitchell
- The Colossus of Detroit (Xanadu, 1978)
With Hank Mobley
- Mobley's Message (Prestige 1956)
- Jazz Message No. 2 (Savoy 1957)
- The Turnaround (Blue Note, 1965)
With James Moody
- Don't Look Away Now! (Prestige, 1969)
- With Lee Morgan
- Take Twelve (Jazzland, 1962)
- The Sidewinder (Blue Note, 1963)
With Sal Nistico
- Heavyweights (Jazzland, 1961)
With Dave Pike
- It's Time for Dave Pike (Riverside, 1961)
With Sonny Red
- Breezing (Jazzland, 1960)
- The Mode (Jazzland (1961)
- Images (Jazzland, 1961)
With Red Rodney
- Bird Lives! (Muse, 1973)
- Home Free (Muse, 1977 )
With Sonny Stitt
- Burnin' (Argo, 1958)
- Tune-Up! (Cobblestone, 1972)
- Constellation (Cobblestone, 1972)
- 12! (Muse, 1972)
- My Buddy: Sonny Stitt Plays for Gene Ammons (Muse, 1975)
- Blues for Duke (Muse, 1975 )
With Don Wilkerson
- The Texas Twister (Riverside, 1960)
- Milkowski, Bill (1998). "Barry Harris: Young-hearted elder". Jazz Times.
- Barry Harris: Spirit of Bebop. Efor Films. 2004.
- Barry Kernfeld, ed. (2002). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz Second edition. London, England: Macmillan Publishers Limited. p. 177. ISBN 033369189X.
- Greg Thomas (16 July 2012). "Bebop legend Barry Harris set to burn up Village Vanguard with 2-week gig". New York Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
- Watrous, Peter. "Be-Bop's Generous Romantic", The New York Times, May 28, 1994. Accessed June 2, 2008. "Mr. Harris moved to New York in the early 1960s and became friends with Thelonious Monk and Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, Mr. Monk's patron. Eventually, Mr. Harris moved to her estate in Weehawken, N.J., where he still lives."
- Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (1988). Jazz The Essential Companion. New York: Prentice Hall Press. ISBN 0-13-509274-4.
- Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2012). All Music Guide to Jazz: The Definitive Guide to Jazz music. USA: Hal Leonard Publishing. ISBN 0-87930-717-X. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
- Greg Thomas (July 16, 2012). "Bebop legend Barry Harris set to burn up Village Vanguard with 2-week gig". New York Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
- "Evolutionary Voicings, Part 1 – Howard Rees' Jazz Workshops". jazzworkshops.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "About Howard Rees – Howard Rees' Jazz Workshops". jazzworkshops.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Barry Harris Residency April 7 through 10". www.brown.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Larry Ridley - Biography". www.larryridley.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Recognition Awards to Barry Harris for Outstanding Devotion to Music and Education". www.barryharris.com. 2014.
- "Barry Harris facts, information, pictures". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "The Complete Regent Sessions - Pepper Adams". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Barry Harris at the Jazz Workshop - Barry Harris". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Barry Harris Discography". www.jazzdisco.org. Retrieved 2017-04-27.