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Gene Harris and the Philip Morris All-Stars: Live

I don’t know how Gene Harris got to be leader of the Philip Morris All-Stars, because on the evidence here he appears to be a busy, somewhat bombastic player-and loud. There is, however, an increasing tendency for engineers with the new equipment to over-record piano. Few listeners can wish to be inside that instrument when even its best exponents are working it over.

Ernie Andrews is loud, too, on blues medleys, in a cheeky way-effrontery with a smile, as it were. Stanley Turrentine is energetic, but not very convincing, so what real smoking is done (for Philip Morris) is by Sweets Edision (his “I Wish I Knew” survives a Harris outburst) and Kenny Burrell, with able support from George Mraz and the neat Lewis Nash. An audience of “intellectuals and glitterati” apparently ate it all up happily.

Andrews is heard to better advantage on the HighNote, where he does a Charlie Parker medley again and another of material associated with Ellington. The accompaniment is by Houston Person with Aaron Graves on piano, John Webber on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums. Graves, new to me, is agreeably both simpatico and autentico at times. The title of the set is accurate, because it shows the individuality of the Andrews approach in a program of strongly varied material.

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