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JazzCity2020: A Celebration of Eddie Harris this Friday

In 2020, JazzCity continues its exploration of the lives and legacies of Chicago’s jazz giants with a year dedicated to considering the musician, inventor and truth seeker known as Eddie Harris.

FEB 7 NextGenJazz: Freedom Jazz Dance | Foster Park, 1440 W. 84th St.

“Music is the only profession in the world that one may find themselves successful before learning it”-EH

Educator, mentor and saxophonist Jarrard Harris curates a quintet of fresh new voices to recreate some of Eddie Harris’ best known recordings, including the song that Miles Davis made into a jazz standard. Featuring Royce Harrington on trombone, Len'i McKinney on saxophone, Kurt Shelby Jr. on bass, Elio Adriano on piano and Josh Ross on drums.

From the 1940s to the 1960s Chicago’s saxophone heroes were so distinctively different they became known worldwide as The Chicago Sound. A student of the famed jazz and concert band director Captain Walter Dyett at DuSable High School, Harris was devoted to creating new sounds and meaningful music. Sometimes that meant experimenting with fusing woodwind reeds with brass instruments, sometimes it meant fusing jazz with soul and rock and R&B. Along the way his inimitable views of life and artmaking were captured in widely disseminated aphorisms known as “Eddieisms.”

DuSable alum Mwata Bowden remembers Harris coming by to sit in when he rehearsed with Charles Walton’s big band. Bowden had heard about Harris’ experimentation with switching mouthpieces or playing instruments in unconventional ways, which undoubtedly sparked curiosity in the young musician’s mind. Bowden’s Rules of Invention concert will draw from that fearless pursuit of the new with the help of hip hop poet Khari B, pianist Robert Irving III and others. Saxophonist Chris Greene welcomed the chance to honor one of his greatest musical heroes, and vocalist Milton Suggs jumped on board for a take on Tryin’ to Make it Real (from the Swiss Movements album) and to join pianist Miguel De la Cerna in paying homage to former Harris pianists Willie Pickens and Jodie Christian. Saxophonists Pat Mallinger and Cameron Pfiffner will be joined by Hammond B3 organist Peter Benson and drummer Charles Heath in a studious examination of Eddiesms, and the wildly inventive trumpeter and composer Ben LaMar Gay meets 93 year old guitarist George Freeman for a creative showdown in Listen Here. Pianist Jo Ann Daugherty and bassist Marlene Rosenberg demonstrate the ground breaking ideas of Women of Chicago Jazz, and the year closes out in a blowout Bebop Brass, High Voltage version with special guest Ari Brown and a nonet of Chicago’s top brass.

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