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Profiles

Catch up on the careers of the music’s greatest and latest artists.

Inside the Barry Harris Method

As one of Dr. Barry Harris’ weekly New York City jazz workshops was getting under way on a Tuesday night in December, a friendly stranger gave me some advice: “Leave your ego behind.”

For years I had heard about these public sessions where anyone with $15, regardless of ability or previous experience, could spend six hours with the bebop piano legend. After seeing Harris play two exhilarating sets at London’s Pizza Express Jazz Club last August before an adoring crowd, many of whom had attended his master class earlier that day, I realized that I, a New Yorker and jazz pianist, needed to visit the workshop and report on the experience.

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Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane: Evidence

It’s not quite the Lost Ark of the Covenant, but for some time researchers had been aware of the possibility of a long-lost recording featuring Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. In the December 26, 1957, issue of Down Beat there was notice that stated, “Willis Conover and the Voice of America were scheduled to invade Carnegie Hall late in November” to broadcast a jazz concert. Voice of America, the U.S. government shortwave-radio service that broadcasts news and music overseas, would sometimes feature concert recordings that were not aired in the U.S.

In 1996, while doing research for my book John Coltrane: His Life and Music, I found an advertisement in the New York Amsterdam News (a venerable black newspaper) that listed that VOA concert. With the date now in hand-Friday, November 29, 1957-I contacted the Library of Congress, which owns all the VOA tapes. Unfortunately, the LOC had no record of a VOA recording made at Carnegie Hall on 11/29/57, but staffers allowed that as they continued to organize and catalog this huge collection, it might indeed turn up-if it was there at all.

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