Barry Harris Plays Tadd Dameron – Xanadu/Elemental Music 906071, 42:45 – (1975) ****:
Al Cohn & Jimmy Rowles – Heavy Love – Xanadu/ Elemental Music 906073, 48:26 – (1977) ****1/2:
(Barry Harris – piano; Gene Taylor – bass; Leroy Williams – drums)
(Al Cohn – tenor sax; Jimmy Rowles – piano)
As well as being a bop piano master, recording over 35 albums in seven plus decades, Barry Harris is also a noted jazz educator. Barry covers both arenas in a 1975 release, Plays Tadd Dameron, just released as part of the Xanadu Master Edition series by Elemental Music/The Orchard. Harris interprets eight Tadd Dameron compositions including such standards as “Hot House,” “Soultrane,” “The Chase,” “If You Could See Me Now,” and “Our Delight.”
Incorporating bop, swing, and Latin motifs Harris provides a forty-two-minute piano “lecture” on the composer who combined bop with a Kansas City jazz background. Dameron’s songbook remains vital today fifty years after his death, and forty years since Barry recorded this album.
Backed by the sympathetic pairing of Gene Taylor on bass and Leroy Williams on drums, Barry’s fingers dart all over the keyboard seemingly in overdrive but still firmly in command, and with a gentle touch. Dameron’s songs have a timeless feel just as “comfortable” today as when they were written. Krieg Wunderlich has done a masterful with the sound mix, and fans of Harris and Dameron will find lots to like here.
Many jazz duo recordings can be a bit tiresome. The listener wishes for a “fuller” sound as a drummer and bassist so often fill out the trio for a pianist. Not so the case for Al Cohn and Jimmy Rowles on their prized Xanadu reissue, Heavy Love. Al and Jimmy were made for each other as they take turns inspiring each other. We have Elemental Music to thank for remastering and issuing this March 15, 1977 session on the new Xanadu Master Edition series.
Cohn and Rowles swing effortlessly on a treasure trove of standards as well as their own “Bar Talk.” “For All We Know” is added as a dessert topping not part of the original LP issue. The love between these two swing blues masters is evident on the album cover photo and throughout their days work spent together. I’d imagine that there were very few second takes needed that day. Just turn on the tape and let these heavyweights loose.
Though this was a “one-off” issue and each had their separate careers in full force, it must have been a special day for the two masters to bounce ideas off each other for fresh blues based reinterpretations of tunes they knew so well. Heavy Love is true “comfort food for the jazz soul.” Take a bite for yourself. It will be good for what ails you…
TrackList: Barry Harris Plays Tadd Dameron:
Hot House, Soultrane, The Chase, Ladybird, Casbah, If You Could See Me Now, The Tadd Walk, Our Delight
TrackList: Heavy Love:
Them There Eyes, Sweet and Lovely, I Hadn’t Anyone Till You, Takin’ a Chance on Love, These Foolish Things, Bar Talk, For All We Know (bonus track)