there are a couple of videos on youtube of gene harris' otter crest concert playing in a trio setting with jimmie smith and john heard.  the whole concert is about 2 hours long, and it is the most amazing concert i have ever seen.
gene gets a standing ovation on nearly every song.  i've been to a lot of jazz concerts, and this is very unusual.  if a concert is really good, the audience will give a standing o at the end, but not for several songs.  the only other concert recording that i have seen a crowd act so enthusiastically is the monty alexander montreux concert which is on youtube as well.  but even that doesn't rival the energy of this concert.
gene is the absolute master of grooving and manipulating the audience with his tension and release.  this particular quality of gene's is simply the greatest in the history of jazz.  you can take any of the greatest names in jazz piano history, and none of them can top gene as far as that goes.

if any of you have seen gene live in concert, please write about it.  i would be very anxious to hear your story and extremely jealous.
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over the last 15 years of his life i saw harris about ten times in clubs. i talked to him before the show and he told me he played for the ladies in the audience when he was on stage. i asked him what he thought about benny green (this was around 1992) and he said he felt green was still finding his voice. another time i was standing beside gene in the bathroom and i asked him what he thought about joe sample, he replied "joe can play."

gene's blond wife was always at his club gigs, she seemed nice. i remember one set where gene did a blues that he worked up to such intensity, was sweating so hard that, i thought he was going to have a heart attack right there on stage.
hey jazz+, thanks for that story!
that's an interesting comment about benny green.  i'm realizing that benny green has had a pretty significant influence in the jazz world.  i'm taking lessons with tamir hendelman right now, and there are certain techniques that he does that are very obviously influenced from benny green.  i hear the same stuff with larry fuller.  tamir taught me a little of the technique.  it's definitely a distinct sub-genre.
i would imagine that gene and green have two very different styles.  although i have heard tracks occasionally of green playing some soul-drenched tunes gene-style (down by the riverside comes to mind).

gene's wife janie wrote that biography i read.  she was very involved in his career, she was basically managing it.

yeah, you can hear that gene exerts a lot of physical effort in playing.  that's awesome.  jeff hamilton wrote an article about playing in a trio, and in it he comments that no matter how loud or soft, fast or slow, lots of notes, few notes...the truly great players are very intense when they play.  so, the sweat is not due necessarily to the physical activity, but the mental concentration involved.
ehat technique from benny green and larry fuller are you talking about? what are you working on with tamir hendelman?
well, it's basically the locked hands technique.  i know that doesn't really distinguish it much, but it's something i hear benny, tamir, larry doing all the time.  i can almost immediately tell who is playing just by hearing the way they do that.  and all three of those guys have pretty close ties, so it makes sense.
benny also does that synchronized two-handed thing a lot where the hands  follow each other.  tamir will also use that a lot.
but it's the locked hands thing that i have been working on recently.  it's not easy, but it's really cool in that it allows you to have a very full sounding chord for each note of the melody, even if the overall written chord is not changing.
now, i have to also say that this technique i described above is not something gene does much at all.  gene is more about those really big gospel chords.  you know; big left hand octaves pounding.  it's really fun learning the details of styles of these guys and how they define their sound.
jazz+, funny you should mention standing next to him in the bathroom.  i was at otter crest one year (not this one) for the first time and ended up standing next to this big guy all dressed in white.  i didn't know who he was at the time but of course saw him on stage shortly after that.

the otter crest shows were probably the best i've ever seen.  i was introduced to so many great players there including gene, the claytons and many others.  the shows were great because they were all straight-ahead and acoustic.  the room held only 300 people so it was always intimate and the audience was very knowledgeable and appreciative.  a great lost when that show disappeared.
benny green block chords:

https://www.jazzcenter.org/
just type in:

benny green

https://www.jazzcenter.org/
superboy, what's your take on this:

i can't go to youtube at work...what video is that, please describe?  i may possibly have seen it already.
it's not a video. it's a pdf type files of transcriptions of benny green's block chords.
jazz+, thanks for the benny green link.  i actually think i got those transcriptions once before, but i didn't understand the block chords at the time.

as for the hiromi video, well there's so much to say.  first of all, she's obviously amazingly talented technically.  also, she's much better than some of these other videos of technically amazing people playing oscar peterson transcriptions.  she has a better sense of rhythm and control without sounding like a perfect computer recording.

however, there is something lacking in the performance, and i have to say that once i got past the initial shock of how talented she is, the music itself was not particularly interesting.  this is a very critical point that most talented jazz musicians seem to miss.  and i know that i am in the sever minority with my jazz preferences, so a lot of people won't agree with me here.

when you play music, you tell a story with the notes you play.  what hiromi is telling me in her story is, "look how fast and accurately i can play."  sure she tries to vary it up with some interesting movements, but it doesn't work well as far as being very interesting.  it's simply not good storytelling.

this is what gene harris was the absolute master at.  nobody did it better than he did.  he was a master storyteller, and it didn't matter if you understood or liked jazz.  if you listened to him play, you were drawn into the story.  he would pull you in for highs and lows, at just the right moments...like i said, it was masterful.
gene would get the audience spontaneously clapping, gasping, and his trademark climaxes where the crowd would erupt when he finally released the tension.  i have yet to see anyone come close to doing that as consistently and as well as he did.

hiromi will get standing ovations during her playing, but it won't be spontaneous and chaotic.  like in that video, she's wowing everyone by playing really fast, she's making the faces and everything, she has the nice polished environment around really showcasing her prominently...of course she's going to get a good ovation.  but not like gene, who would do more with a dirty little club piano environment than her nice stage there.

there's a song on the otter crest video that i should probably put on youtube.  it really shows what it's all about.  of course, his summertime videos are already up there, and it's an amazing example of what a master storyteller can do with music.
i just wanted to let you guys know of a youtube video.  search for:
gene harris otter crest a little blues there

there are two parts.  amazing performance.
here are the links (two parts) for the video:


!!!!! i have just been converted to the gene harris fan club...that really swings!

can you get that album on cd? whats the best gene harris stuff to pick up?
you better believe it.  nobody swings better and more consistently than gene.  monty can, but he will routinely do other things.  nobody in history has been dedicated to swinging and grooving his a$$ off than gene.  not even oscar.

that's from the live at otter crest album.  it's a fantastic album.

gene's two best albums, in my opinion, are his two live ones with the ray brown trio, so they will be categorized under ray brown.  so get these two albums and you will thank me later:

(these will all be found under ray brown trio)
live at loa (summer wind)
bam bam bam
red hot ray brown trio
black orpheus

these are all live albums.  the red hot and bam bam bam album can now be found repackaged in one 2-cd set called "live from new york to tokyo".

these albums literally changed my life musically.  gene brought something to the jazz world that nobody hasn't been done before and since, and he doesn't get enough credit for it.

when i have time, i'll try to post more from that video.  that's not the only great song of that set.  there's a point during that show where gene gets a standing ovation on nearly every song.  nobody gets that ever.
here's a new video from otter crest, just posted:
nobody in history has been dedicated to swinging and grooving his a$$ off than gene.  not even oscar. -superboy

i disagee.

nobody swings the blues like oscar.
that gene does better than anyone else ever, including oscar.  i don't know what to call that thing, but it's definitely something.  it has something to do with gospel, swing, blues...something like that.  monty is pretty much just as good, when he wants to be, but not as consistently and with as much dedication as gene.

gene is the only person i've seen that can really get a crowd playing jazz music.  other guys can do it sometimes, but not as consistently.  gene knows how to stir your soul, even if your not a jazz person.
i don't think anyone is better or worse at this or that.  we all have preferences for a variety of reasons.  what makes one women more or less attractive than another? - the eyes of the beholder:)

(i do think elton john swings harder than billy joel though - but that's for another thread)
true true.
just enjoy the videos, they are great.

i also have a clip of oscar with joe pass that i don't think is on youtube yet.  he plays cool walk i think.  there are a couple videos already of him playing the same song with pass, but the one i have is different because oscar usually plays it really fast and on this he plays it about half the speed.  it's really good.  i'll try to do that soon.


seems like someone already posted that video i mentioned above.  i don't know if this song is called "cool walk" or "cakewalk".  i know i've heard oscar play cakewalk several times, and it's always pretty fast.  this song seems to be a half-speed version of cakewalk, but the chord progressions seem to be slightly different also, but not enough to say it's a different song.  i don't know.  all i know is i love this slow version of whatever-walk.
oscar seems to have a lighter touch than gene harris, sometimes gene harris seems to get a bit heavy on the piano which doesn't really help it swing (in my very humble opinion)
like i said before, in discussions i've had in the past, i've noticed the term "swing" has too many variations among different.  i'd have to say that i disagree with what you say, but only because my definition of swing will be different from yours.  so, in reality, we're just using the word in different ways.

for me, a more accurate way to describe oscar and gene would be a little more complex.  it seems that, yes, oscar has a lighter touch than gene.  but i think that's because gene plays with a heavy gospel foundation, so he uses a lot of big chords.  also, gene's trademark are those long, rolling a fistful of keys in two hands, climaxes.  the only time i've heard oscar do that is on hymn to freedom.

oscar's style is a little more old-school, and traditional than gene's.  kind of from the older school of art tatum, teddy wilson style.  like i said, i think the gospel touch is what separates gene's style from oscar's.

as for oscar not being heavy on the piano, i used to think that also.  but i think i was wrong on that.  if you watch that video above of oscar, you will see that oscar is pounding the s--- out of the piano.  if that's not heavy, i don't what is.  i think oscar plays very heavy, but it seems light because he plays a lot of notes and his style doesn't include those really big, fat gospel chords like gene's.  even my drummer commented about in videos, how it seems like oscar is going to break the piano with those massive hands and how hard he hits the keys.  even when he's playing fast and he accents notes, you can see a lot of weight go into it.

i'll post sweet lorraine from the otter crest video, and you will see gene doing his chord roll thing (i don't know if there's a term for this) for quite a long time, and at the climax of it, he is literally hammering the piano like a jackhammer breaking up concrete.


anyway, i don't mean to sound defensive.  i just enjoy talking about this stuff, and like anything else (and as dr. whack said) it's not easy to say who's better who's not, but it is possible to be descriptive and anaylze.
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