The Bill Harris Quintet – Inside Out – Pensativa Music Productions, 69:47 ***½:
(Bill Harris – alto & tenor sax; Paul Mazzio – trumpet & flugelhorn; George Mitchell – piano; Dave Captein – bass; Dick Berk – drums)
Do doppelgangers really exist? Well they certainly appear to do so in the jazz world. Recently there was a disc released by Ray Brown. Not The Ray Brown the bassist, but the trumpeter/arranger. Now there is a disc by Bill Harris. Not The Bill Harris trombonist of the Woody Herman band, but the alto/tenor player from Portland, Oregon. Despite the name confusion, this Bill Harris has delivered a interesting and worthwhile session.
This first-time effort as a leader by Harris is principally a standards-derived set with one original by the leader. The band does not break any new musical ground as the charts appear to be uncomplicated, but there is plenty of solo space for each player. With “You’re My Everything” as the lead track, Harris sets the framework with his alto giving a stellar offering and the rest of the band joining in. His own composition “Boston After Dark” provides Harris the flexibility to demonstrates his versatility on tenor with pianist George Mitchell showing his mettle.
Three well-known standards “I Hear a Rhapsody”, “We’ll Be Together Again” and “I’ll Get By” are strung together and all of them are given sympathetic readings and confirms the tightness of the band. The Clare Fischer rhythmic bossa nova “Pensativa” gives ample solo room for each band member to expand on the underlying musical structure and they do so with verve. The final two tracks challenge the band’s versatility given their intricacy. Firstly the Tadd Dameron composition “Soultrane” which he wrote for his album with John Coltrane entitled Mating Call is given a sensitive reading by the band. Then the Thelonious Monk’s “Little Rootie Tootie” with all its chord changes showcases that this is a very solid group.
While this outing may not reach new musical boundaries, it is a solid effort worth a listen.
TrackList: You’re My Everything; Boston After Dark; Profiles; I Hear A Rhapsody; We’ll Be Together Again; I’ll Get By; Pensativa; A Sleepin’ Bee; Soultrane; Little Rootie Tootie
Rob Silverman: Drumology Vol 2; Pat Petrillo Big Rhythm Band: The Power Station Sessions – Autumn Hill Records
Two excellent percussion-inspired releases from an emerging jazz label.