Reviews

Inside Out, Bill Harris, alto and tenor saxophones (George Fendel, Oregon Jazz Society Newsletter)

Do you have enough jazz wrinkles to remember the consistently great recordings from labels like Blue Note and Prestige? One after another, they turned out timeless small group sessions that went a long way toward defining the very essence of jazz. Well, Portland native Bill Harris has, perhaps unknowingly, applied this wise concept on an absolutely terrific new CD. He gathered a group of Portland’s premier players in the studio; put some fresh, invigorating Steve Hall arrangements on their stands; and in effect said, “You guys take it from here.” What resulted was a flawless, classic blowing session featuring Portland giants Paul Mazzio, flugelhorn, George Mitchell, piano, Dave Captein, bass, and Dick Berk, drums — in addition to Harris’s super reed work. Everybody gets generous opportunity to strut their solo stuff, and always with superb taste. And Harris also “gets it right” in choosing ideal quintet vehicles that include “You’re My Everything”, “I Hear A Rhapsody,” “We’ll Be Together Again,” “I’ll Get By” and “A Sleepin’ Bee.” From the jazz book, there’s “Pensativa,” “Soultrane” and “Little Rootie Tootie.” Two Harris originals complete a straightahead CD with no fluff, no pretense and no frosting. I loved every minute of it!

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BILL HARRIS QUINTET/Inside Out: A working musician mostly toiling in the hinterlands for longer than you’ve been alive, sax man Harris grew up eating small group jazz for the smaller jazz labels for breakfast. He’s turned the cheap budgets behind those records into something intimate, swinging and full-blooded. This set finds him working out with his pals in Portland, Oregon, the stomping ground that finds him being the major domo grande fish in a small pond and delivering the goods like a cat that has sweated blood in New York for years. He’s probably had a better lifestyle along the way which is also reflected in his music. A solid mainstream groover for hip cats that like it nice and easy and always inviting. Well done. Chris Spector – Midwest Record – www.midwestrecord.com 

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Published March 22nd, 2012 at 4:28 pm in Music Reviews
Tagged with Bill Harris, Dave Captein, Dick Berk, George Mitchell, jazz, Paul Mazzio

With all of the music that I receive on a regular basis from a number of sources, I like to “spend time” with it. That’s a poetic way of saying that I want to concentrate my time on the music and only the music, and there are moments when I get some stuff and I’m thinking “do I have to hear this?” In this case, this was an album that I wanted to “spend time” with, and I’m glad I did.

The Bill Harris Quintet‘s Inside Out (Pensativa Music) is the kind of jazz albums I wish were not so much plentiful (because there’s more than a healthy amount out there), but that it would be heard by more people than its intended target audience. The musicians on this album play the kind of jazz that makes you wish you were there to hear it live, or to witness it in the studio, as they all share a common bond that allows them unify and play some classics (“Little Rootie Tootie”, “I Hear A Rhapsody”, and “Pensativa”, the latter a great composition that will renew people’s love for composer Clare Fischer, who passed away in January. Together, Harris (saxophones) along with Dick Berk (drums), Dave Captein (bass), George Mitchell (piano), and Paul Mazzio (trumpet and Flugelhorn) honor the spirit of jazz both of the past and present, and continue the legacy of jazz music in Portland, Oregon that has been a part of the city for over 75 years.

John Book – This is Book’s Music – www.thisisbooksmusic.com