Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Allan Harris: Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better: Black Bar Jukebox Redux

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

While all the fuss surrounding Gregory Porter is fully justified, Allan Harris is long overdue for as much respect and praise. Indeed, to borrow a Dan Fogelberg reference, they often seem twin sons of different mothers. Harris’ beefy baritone is equally commanding and arresting, and he is just as gifted as a songwriter and as a liaison between jazz and R&B. (Harris is also a monster guitarist when he chooses to be.)

Last year, Harris released Black Bar Jukebox, a crazy quilt of covers and originals that extends from Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore” to Elton John’s “Take Me to the Pilot.” This companion collection proves just as eclectic and even more satisfying, the canny jumble including a feather-light “Doralice” and soulful “More Today Than Yesterday,” a grandly funkified interpretation of Steely Dan’s “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” and a reading of the Ray Charles hit “Ruby” that eerily channels Nat King Cole, one of Harris’ biggest heroes. Marvin Gaye meets Edwin Starr on Harris’ organ-fueled version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Up From the Skies,” and he artfully navigates the slippery curves of “Moody’s Mood for Love.” Harris adds four of his own compositions, again a heterogeneous mix: the densely atmospheric “Mother’s Love,” satin-lined “Secret Moments,” scorching, sizzling “Swing” and, lifted from his decade-old Cross That River song cycle, a muscular reworking of the rousing mini-drama “Blue Was Angry.”

Purchase this issue from Barnes & Noble or Apple Newsstand. Print and digital subscriptions are also available.

Originally Published