Lonnie Hillyer (tp), Charles McPherson (as), Barry Harris (p), Ernie Farrow (b), Clifford Jarvis (d)
Reference: FSRCD 773
Bar code: 8427328607735
The piano work of Barry Harris grew out of Art Tatum and Bud Powell among others, but, rather than mere imitation, what is clear from these early-60s sessions is that he had rapidly forged from elements of his mentors manner a form of expression distinctly his own.
An extremely fluent, absorbing soloist, on the first album, Newer than New he leads an interesting group that reflects some of his most ingratiating characteristics. Charles McPherson, for example, is a fine altoist rooted in Charlie Parker, but the final product is unmistakeably McPherson, while to a lesser extent Hillyer on trumpet had a similar relationship to Dizzy Gillespie. Besides their consistently excellent soloing they contribute impressively to the strong, meaty ensembles that, along with an impressively light and buoyant rhythm section, characterised this excellent quintet.
On Listen to Barry Harris, the mark of Tatum is all over these sensitive and imaginative unaccompanied piano solos. Like Tatum, Harris makes you listen, not by frenzy or force, but by the constantly shifting timbres and polyrhythmic pulses that emerge from his playing, reinforced ultimately by the long, lyrical, right-hand lines that are his most rewarding attribute.
"Pianist Barry Harris was one of the many artists to come out of the fertile Detroit music scene of the 50s. Hes caught here in two environs; the first is a quintet of wondrous bop material, and the second is a casual solo date, both from the Kennedy years of 1961. The quintet of Charles McPherson/as, Lonnie Hillyer/tp, Ernie Farrow/b and Clifford Jarvis/dr snap and sizzle through Harris compositions such as Mucho Dinero and Make Haste, while jazz standards like Anthropology are putty in the hands of Bird-inspired McPherson. The solo session exposes the wondrous and warm hands of Harris, caressing the ivories on I Didnt Know What Time it Was and Body and Soul as well as his own well crafted pieces such as Mutattra and Sphere. Digits that were destined for greatness are exposed here."
—George W. Harris (July 22, 2013)
-Newer Than New
"A quick listen to the lively bop on Newer Than New may enlist a perplexing question: Was this music really recorded 40 years ago? Apparently so, but the music still sounds fresh and exciting. If pianist Harris set out to show bop was still a vital force in 1961, he accomplished his task. Of course he didn't do this alone. Trumpeter Lonnie Hillyer, alto Charles McPherson, bassist Ernie Farrow, and drummer Clifford Jarvis join him on eight tunes that would've made Parker and Gillespie proud. The influence of bop pioneers is evident on tunes like "The Last One" and "Anthropology," both giving the horns lots of room to soar against the backdrop of dynamic rhythm. "Mucho Dinero," one of several Harris originals, has an exuberant Latin feel. After the horns set the piece in motion, Harris takes the first solo, creating colorful textures with his keen sense of harmony. Newer Than New also places special emphasis on the young horn players, providing McPherson and Hillyer lots of room to show what they've got. Both echo Parker and Gillespie without copying them. Hillyer displays a fat rich tone on numbers like "Easy to Love," while McPherson's resonant pitch, no matter how quickly he's playing, always comes across. Farrow and Jarvis keep the shifting rhythms heavy in the mix, pushing each soloist to create something vital. The title Newer Than New perhaps mocks the obsession with the latest thing, as opposed to opting for the timelessness of high-octane improvising. Jazz styles, like all styles, come and go, but great music like Newer Than New transcends styles. It's also fun (and illustrative) to listen to an album like this back to back with the latest retro jazz. Barry Harris and his colleagues make great jazz without the least bit of self-consciousness."
—Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. -(All Music Guide)
-Listen to Barry Harris... Solo Piano
"Second-generation bop pianist Barry Harris puts the spotlight on the songs in this 1960 solo excursion. Split between standards and originals, the set hears the 31-year-old pianist evoking Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and occasional hints of Fats Waller in performances that defy easy classification as bop, swing, or mainstream. Essentially, it's Harris working within the songs, opening up new pathways in and around the melodic and harmonic structures.
The opening track, "Londonderry Air" (aka "Danny Boy"), provides a clue to Harris' method. He plays the song straight, but subtly brings out the simple, fresh, and elegant possibilities in the traditional folk melody. The same creative process is worked out on the other tracks, which allude to Harris' key influences, but also make clear his own contribution -- an appealingly updated, modernistic approach -- to the jazz piano tradition. Among the standards, "Body and Soul" is given a thoughtful, illuminating reading. "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" is handled with a natural, sophisticated ease. The centerpieces are the originals "Ascension" and "Anachronism." The former, the most boppish track on the CD, has a long shifting melody that lets Harris tastefully demonstrate the depth of his technical and improvisational skills. "Anachronism" is a blues, pure and simple, a timeless statement drawn from the tradition and from Harris' unique ability to keep the tradition vital and progressive."
—Jim Todd (All Music Guide)