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Harris in 2007
|Barry Doyle Harris|
|Born||December 15, 1929|
|Origin||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|Genres||Bebop, hard bop, mainstream jazz|
|Musician, bandleader, composer, teacher|
|Labels||Prestige, Riverside, Xanadu|
|Cannonball Adderley, Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Yusef Lateef|
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. Harris had a strong admiration for the style of Powell, claiming it to be the "epitome" of jazz. 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.
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.
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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).
Harris can be heard and seen teaching his theoretical approach 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.
With Cannonball Adderley
With Charlie Byrd
With Donald Byrd
With Al Cohn
With Sonny Criss
With Dan Faulk
With Terry Gibbs
With Benny Golson
With Dexter Gordon
With Johnny Griffin
With Coleman Hawkins
With Louis Hayes
With Jimmy Heath
With Illinois Jacquet
With Carmell Jones
With Thad Jones
With Sam Jones
With Clifford Jordan
With Lee Konitz
With Harold Land
With Yusef Lateef
With Warne Marsh
With Earl May
With Charles McPherson
With Billy Mitchell
With Hank Mobley
With James Moody
With Lee Morgan
With Sal Nistico
With Dave Pike
With Sonny Red
With Red Rodney
With Sonny Stitt
With Don Wilkerson