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Gene Harris ‎- 1972 – Gene Harris Of The Three Sounds

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While jazz is deniably important, it’s not always accessible for everyone, but Harris welcomes the listener this outing, never too extravagant but never boring, always as much about the song as the solo, this teaches us not only about music, but about art and life itself, how to live and let go, the band meandering with determination like a stream from Withers to Bonfa, from reflection to take notice, Eddie Harris’ “Listen Here” and Mercer/Mandel’s “Emily”, Golson’s “Killer Joe”, opening with John Lewis’ “Django” and closing with Ellington’s “C Jam Blues”, Gene’s playing leading but never overwhelming, the percussion of Johnny Rodriguez and Omar Clay, Freddie Watts with Ron Carter, the electricity of Cornell Dupree and Sam Brown entering the sounds with the ease of a breeze, everyone always aware of everything and everyone.

Sometimes you can get tired of listening to old records, but this is an old record that never gets tired.

A1 Django 6:54
A2 Lean On Me 3:32
A3 A Day In The Life Of A Fool (Manha De Carnaval) 5:26
A4 John Brown’s Body 5:33
B1 Listen Here 5:25
B2 Emily 3:00
B3 Killer Joe 5:27
B4 C Jam Blues 5:53

Gene Harris of the 3 Sounds, released in 1972, looks back (perhaps in reaction to its predecessor) at the jazz terrain he’d explored in the ’60s, but also moves forward with some nice Latin and funky soul touches. Cut in New York, it was produced and arranged by Wade Marcus.

The players include guitarists Cornell Dupree and Sam Brown, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Freddy Waits, and Johnny Rodriguezon congas. On the surface, the tunes do seem to be a walk backward toward his brand of mainstream jazz. But Harris was cagey; despite the mostly organic instrumentation, the groove is right where it should be for the time.

There’s a deep soul-blues swing on John Lewis’ “Django”, a percussive soul-jazz undercurrent on Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe”, as well as a popping Latin tinge in Ellington’s “C Jam Blues”. The reading of Luis Bonfá’s “A Day in the Life of a Fool (Manha de Carnaval)” features a luxuriant interplay between piano, guitars, and shimmering cymbals that is both lush and deeply soulful. Funk rears its head in a burning read of Eddie Harris’ “Listen Here”.

Pop has its place in a fine cover of Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me”. Both include chunky wah-wah guitars, strong backbeats, and conga breaks, while Harris walks the line between soul, blues, and gospel in his soloing. Individually, these albums may be mere curiosities; together they offer a compelling portrait of an artist in transition.