1 June 2019

Pete Recommends…Barry Harris Trio – Chasin’ The Bird

Barry Harris Trio

Chasin’ The Bird

[LP: Riverside RLP 435 CD: OJC OJCCD-872-2]


Not another pianist! Yes, and this one has been coming for some time. During the 1960s and 70s Barry became a mentor for quite a number of jazz musicians, offering them advice on harmony and improvisation. I was reminded of this recently. One of my friends has enjoyed the visits to Brighton of pianist Rossano Sportiello and persuaded me to buy his CD, Pastel (which I recommend). From the sleeve note I learned that Rossano has benefitted from Barry’s advice. My memory took me back to a conversation with trumpeter Gary Kavanagh about ten years ago, when he told me that whenever Barry was in Europe he would try to meet him for a session of advice. So I have had Barry in mind for this column for some time.

In my collection I still have a treasured copy of Barry’s superb vinyl album devoted to Tadd Dameron. This is now available on CD coupled with his Monk album. Obviously I would recommend this bargain, but I have chosen an album which provides a wider spectrum of his playing.

Recorded in 1962, when Barry was establishing his reputation and working with the Adderley brothers, Lee Morgan and many others, it offers a variety of material. If you have heard him before you will know that in a very personal way he continued the piano style established by Bud Powell. This is exhibited in a fine version of Indiana. For an outstanding example of his work at this time I would choose the treatment of The Way You Look Tonight. This is Barry showing his complete mastery and development of that style. For pianists tempted to buy this album I would suggest there is much to be learned from his reading of Round Midnight. Barry’s love of Monk’s music is clearly demonstrated.


Peter Batten

Barry Harris, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Clifford Jarvis, drums.

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