Eddie Harris: Freedom Jazz Dance

Originally issued by Venus Records in Japan, this Todd Barkan production brings the late sax master to the helm of a strong trio of Jacky Terrasson on piano, George Mraz on bass, and Billy Hart on drums. And the term master, an overused cliche to be sure, is not used lightly here. And while we’re throwing around familiar jazz terms, let’s also fit Eddie Harris with that threadbare suit called underrated. Just as surely as he mastered the tenor saxophone with an unmistakable identity, Eddie Harris was criminally overlooked during his curious career. He never seemed to get out from under the cloak of gimmickry many clothed him in.

Having witnessed Harris blow away several of Chicago’s all-time finest (Griffin, Jordan, Freeman, Sullivan, et. al.) on a years-ago Chicago Jazz Festival stage, his mastery is indelibly stamped on this brain. Here he navigates a no-nonsense jazz date that includes six tried and true elements, including his title track – a piece that lives as his finest moment with pen and manuscript, and a lovely George Mraz original.