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Barry Harris: Live at DUG

This is probably the first bop album in over 40 years to open with “How High The Moon,” but it does serve to remind us of how little has changed on the club date scene. In this case, the highly esteemed Harris was recorded live on a gig at Tokyo’s “DUG” in the company of acoustic bassist Kunimitsu Inaba and drummer Fumio Watanabe, who, despite their local popularity, add little to this occasion. A yawn-inducing “Somebody Loves Me” drags along at a tired mule’s pace, but Earl Bostic’s medium-up “No Name Blues” is somewhat redemptive, at least insofar as Harris is concerned. Happily, the recording balance improves on Bud Powell’s “Oblivion” and “It Could Happen To You,” which simply means that the piano mike has been turned up a notch.

Following a brief rubato, Harris sails into a bright “Cherokee,” on which the drummer takes a short solo, but we still hear little from the bassist. He finally gets his moment, though, on the brisk “Green Dolphin Street,” the most cohesive track so far. Warming to the task, Harris next engages an even brighter “Rhythm-A-Ning,” displaying his Powellian chops to their best advantage. By this time, he is even able to establish a rhythmic groove on “East Of The Sun,” with both bassist and drummer in close attendance, but, just when everything is finally coming together, the set ends abruptly with a hokey sing-along sign-off on Harris’ “Nascimento.”

Originally Published