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Inside the Barry Harris Method

A visit to a bebop master’s long-running workshop for improvisers

Barry Harris (photo: Melanie Futorian)

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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Originally Published

Allen Morrison

Allen Morrison is a music journalist, musician, jazz critic, lecturer, and a regular contributor to JazzTimes and 
DownBeat. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, Jazziz, American Songwriter, and Departures. He lectures frequently on jazz history aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Before becoming a full-time journalist, Allen worked as a music publicist and a pianist. He is working on a book on how musicians and non-musicians hear music. He maintains a blog at