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November 1998

Eddie Harris and Wendell Harrison
The Battle of the Tenors
Enja Records

In his 40-year career, Eddie Harris built a reputation for inventive musicianship delivered from an irrepressibly hip attitude. That's the mood of this live recording from the 1994 Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival, where he was teamed with hometown hero Wendell Harrison.

The set opens with a wild two-tenor rendition of Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness." An angular Harrison original, "The Wok," and a lush treatment of the Arlen-Mercer gem, "My Shining Hour," precede three dynamic Harris originals. "Eddie Who?" is a clever bluesy autobiography with vocal references to "Cold Duck," "Listen Here," "Freedom Jazz Dance" and "Compared to What?" He turns zany chameleon on "Vocalese," shifting from falsetto to gargle to bellow. He scats through the closing track, "Ampedextrious," which features Harrison on clarinet, guitarist Alex Rigowski, bassist Ralphe Armstrong and drummer Tom Starr. This one's a must for hip Harris fans.

Originally published in November 1998
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