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Barry Doyle Harris (born December 15, 1929) is an American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator. He is an exponent of the bebop style.[1]

Barry Harris
Barry Harris.jpg
Harris in 2007
Background information
Birth nameBarry Doyle Harris
Born (1929-12-15) December 15, 1929 (age 89)
OriginDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
GenresBebop, hard bop, mainstream jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader, composer, teacher
LabelsPrestige, Riverside, Xanadu
Associated actsCannonball Adderley, Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Yusef Lateef, Ryo Fukui

Early life and careerEdit

Harris began learning the piano at the age of four. His mother was a church pianist and had asked if Harris was interested in playing church or jazz music. Having picked jazz, he was influenced by Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell. Harris had a strong admiration for the style of Powell, claiming it to be the "epitome" of jazz. He went to public areas to play dances for clubs and ballrooms. Harris learned the bebop styles largely by ear, imitating the solos played by Bud Powell in his teenage years.[2]

Later life and careerEdit


Harris was based in Detroit through the 1950s and worked with musicians such as Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt and Thad Jones. He also performed in place of Junior Mance, who was Gene Ammons's regular pianist for his group frequently. In addition, Harris toured with Max Roach briefly in 1956 as a pianist after the group's resident pianist Richie Powell (younger brother of Bud Powell) died in a car crash.[3]


Harris performed with Cannonball Adderley's quintet and even had a chance to do a television stint with them.[3]

Harris relocated to New York City in 1960, where he became a performer as well as a jazz educator. During his time in New York, Harris collaborated with Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, Yusef Lateef and Hank Mobley through performances and recordings.[3]

Between 1965 and 1969, Harris performed extensively with Coleman Hawkins at the Village Vanguard.[4]


During the 1970s, Harris lived with Monk at the Weehawken, New Jersey home of the jazz patroness Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, and so was in an excellent position to comment on the last years of his fellow pianist.[5]

Harris also sat in for Monk for rehearsals at the New York Jazz Repertory Company in 1974.[6]

By the mid-1970s, Harris and his band members gave concerts in European cities and Japan. In Japan, he performed at the Yubin Chokin concert hall in Tokyo over two days and his performance were recorded and compiled into an album released by Xanadu Records.[7]


Harris in 1981

Between 1982 and 1987, Harris took charge of the Jazz Cultural Workshop on the 8th Avenue in New York.[8]

Harris appears in the 1989 documentary film Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (produced by Clint Eastwood), performing duets with Tommy Flanagan.


Since the 1990s, Harris has collaborated with Toronto-based pianist and teacher Howard Rees in creating a series of videos and workbooks documenting his unique harmonic and improvisational systems and teaching process.[9][10]


In 2000, he was profiled in the film Barry Harris - Spirit of Bebop.[2]

Harris continues to perform and teach worldwide. When he is not traveling, he holds weekly music workshop sessions in New York City for vocalists, students of piano and other instruments.[11]

Harris has recorded 19 albums as a lead artist.

Jazz Cultural TheaterEdit

Barry Harris at Barry Harris' Jazz Cultural Theatre, New York NY 7/21/84

Larry Ridley, Barry Harris, Jim Harrison, and Frank Fuentes were partners in creating the Jazz Cultural Theater beginning 1982.[12] Located at 368 Eighth Avenue in New York City in a storefront between 28th and 29th Streets in Manhattan, it was primarily a performance venue featuring prominent jazz artists and also hosted jam sessions. Additionally, it was known for Barry's music classes for vocalists and instrumentalists, each taught in separate sessions. Several artists recorded albums at the club, including Barry on his For the Moment. Some of the many musicians and notable jazz figures who appeared at the Jazz Cultural Theater were bassist Larry Ridley, guitarist Ted Dunbar, pianist Jack Wilson, trumpeter Bill Hardman, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, trumpeter Tommy Turrentine, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, pianist Mickey Tucker, guitarist Peter Leitch, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, guitarist Mark Elf, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, drummer Leroy Williams, drummer Vernel Fournier, bassist Hal Dotson, bassist Jamil Nasser, pianist Chris Anderson, pianist Walter Davis, Jr., pianist Michael Weiss, tap dancers Lon Chaney and Jimmy Slyde, Francis Paudras (biographer of pianist Bud Powell), and the renowned jazz patroness Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who would park her silver Bentley sedan in front of the club.

The Jazz Cultural Theater (JCT) enjoyed a vibrant five-year run until August 14, 1987, when its lease ran out and the rent was increased. Barry simply moved his jazz instrumental and vocal instructional classes to other venues in New York City, Japan, and Europe, supported by a devoted and ever growing international base of students. Many of them are now professionals, including Dave Glasser (alto sax), Armenian bebop pianist Vahagn Hayrapetyan, and Italian-born brothers Luigi (alto sax) and Pasquale Grasso (guitar).

Theoretical conceptsEdit

Harris can be heard and seen teaching his theoretical approach in this YouTube video of a 2008 clinic he conducted in Spain.

Frans Elsen took videos during several years of Barry Harris workshops at the Royal Conservatory of Music at the Hague. He edited them into 54 videos which he felt represent the techniques Harris taught in the Hague.

Barry Harris teaches the "6th Diminished Scale" (block chords) for harmonic movement, connecting chords.

Also, "handy get out of trouble 5432 phrases to end and begin lines with"...

Also, the half step rules for scale lines "to come out right" (in order to arrive at an intended target note)...

Also, In bebop "we don't play ii7 scales, we play (think) the V7 scale for the entire ii7 V7"...


  • 2000, American Jazz Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievements & Contributions to the World of Jazz
  • 1998, Lifetime Achievements Award for Contributions to the Music World from the National Association of Negro Musicians
  • 1998, Congratulatory Letter as a Jazz Musician and Educator by the U.S. White House
  • 1997, Dizzy Gillespie Achievement Award
  • 1997, Recognition of Excellence in Jazz Music and Education
  • 1995, Doctor of Arts - Honorary Degree by Northwestern University
  • 1995, Special Presidential Award Recognition of Dedication and Commitment to the Pursuance of Artistic Excellence in Jazz Performance and Education
  • 1995, Honorary Jazz Award by the House of Representatives[13][14]
  • 1989, NEA Jazz Master


  • "Seein' Red"[15]
  • "Lolita"[16]
  • "Morning Coffee"
  • "Luminescence"
  • "Like this!"
  • "Even Steven"
  • "Nicaragua"
  • "You Sweet and Fancy Lady"
  • "Rouge"
  • "Just Open Your Heart"
  • "Sun Dance"
  • "Fukai Aijo"
  • "Looking Glass"
  • "For the Moment"
  • "That Secret Place"
  • "Nascimento"
  • "Tommy's Ballad"
  • "Nobody's"
  • "Cats in My Belfry"
  • "The Bird of Red and Gold"
  • "Mutattra"
  • "Ascension"
  • "Anachronism"
  • "Teenie"
  • "Sphere"
  • "Around the Corner"
  • "Stay right with it"
  • "Bish, Bash, Bosh"
  • "Bull's Eye"
  • "Clockwise"
  • "Off Monk"
  • "Barengo"
  • "Oh so Basal"
  • "Vicissitudes"
  • "Now and then"
  • "Sweet Sewanee Blues"
  • "Renaissance"
  • "And so I Love You"
  • "With a Grain of Salt"
  • "A Soft Spot"


As leaderEdit

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1958 Breakin' It Up Argo Trio, with William Austin (bass), Frank Gant (drums)
1960 Barry Harris at the Jazz Workshop Riverside Trio, with Sam Jones (bass), Louis Hayes (drums); in concert
1960 Listen to Barry Harris Riverside Solo piano
1960–61 Preminado Riverside One track solo piano; other tracks trio, with Joe Benjamin (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)
1961 Newer Than New Riverside Quintet, with Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet), Charles McPherson (alto sax), Ernie Farrow (bass), Clifford Jarvis (drums)
1962 Chasin' the Bird Riverside Trio, with Bob Cranshaw, (bass), Clifford Jarvis (drums)
1967 Luminescence! Prestige Sextet, with Slide Hampton (trombone), Junior Cook (tenor sax), Pepper Adams (baritone sax), Bob Cranshaw (bass), Lenny McBrowne (drums)
1968 Bull's Eye! Prestige Some tracks trio, with Paul Chambers (bass), Billy Higgins (drums); some tracks quintet, with Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Charles McPherson (tenor sax), Pepper Adams (baritone sax) added
1969 Magnificent! Prestige Trio, with Ron Carter (bass), Leroy Williams (drums)
1972 Vicissitudes MPS Trio, with George Duvivier (bass), Leroy Williams (drums)
1975 Barry Harris Plays Tadd Dameron Xanadu Trio, with Gene Taylor (bass), Leroy Williams (drums)
1976 Live in Tokyo Xanadu Trio, with Sam Jones (bass), Leroy Williams (drums); in concert
1978 Barry Harris Plays Barry Harris Xanadu Trio, with George Duvivier (bass), Leroy Williams (drums)
1979 The Bird of Red and Gold Xanadu Solo piano; Harris also sings on one track
1984 For the Moment Uptown Trio, with Rufus Reid (bass), Leroy Williams (drums); in concert
1990 Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Volume Twelve Concord Solo piano
1991 Confirmation Candid Quartet, with Kenny Barron (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), Ben Riley (drums); in concert
1991 Barry Harris in Spain Nuba Trio, with Chuck Israels (bass), Leroy Williams (drums); in concert
1995 Live at "Dug" Enja Trio, with Kunimitsu Inaba (bass), Fumio Watanabe (drums); in concert
1996 First Time Ever Alfa Jazz Trio, with George Mraz (bass), Leroy Williams (drums)
1998 I'm Old Fashioned Alfa Jazz Most tracks trio, with George Mraz (bass), Leroy Williams (drums); two tracks with Barry Harris Family Chorus (vocals) added
2000 The Last Time I Saw Paris Venus Trio, with George Mraz (bass), Leroy Williams (drums)
2002 Live in New York Reservoir Quintet, with Charles Davis (tenor sax), Paul West (bass), Leroy Williams (drums); in concert
2004 Live from New York!, Vol. One Lineage Trio, with John Webber (bass), Leroy Williams (drums)
2009 Live in Rennes Plus Loin Trio, with Mathias Allamane (bass), Philippe Soirat (drums); in concert


As sidemanEdit

With Cannonball Adderley

With Charlie Byrd

With Donald Byrd

  • Byrd Jazz (Transition, 1955) - also released as First Flight (Delmark)

With Al Cohn

With Sonny Criss

With Art Farmer and Donald Byrd

With Dan Faulk

  • Focusing In (Criss Cross Jazz, 1992)

With Terry Gibbs

With Benny Golson

With Dexter Gordon

With Johnny Griffin

With Coleman Hawkins

With Louis Hayes

With Jimmy Heath

With Buck Hill

With Illinois Jacquet

With Carmell Jones

With Thad Jones

With Sam Jones

With Clifford Jordan

With Lee Konitz

With Harold Land

With Yusef Lateef

With Warne Marsh

With Earl May

  • Swinging the Blues (Arbors, 2005)

With Charles McPherson

With Billy Mitchell

With Hank Mobley

With James Moody

With Frank Morgan

With Lee Morgan

With Sal Nistico

With Dave Pike

With Sonny Red

With Red Rodney

With Jack Sheldon

With Sonny Stitt

With Don Wilkerson


  1. ^ Milkowski, Bill (1998). "Barry Harris: Young-hearted elder". Jazz Times.
  2. ^ a b Barry Harris: Spirit of Bebop. Efor Films. 2004.
  3. ^ a b c Barry Kernfeld, ed. (2002). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz Second edition. London, England: Macmillan Publishers Limited. p. 177. ISBN 033369189X.
  4. ^ Greg Thomas (16 July 2012). "Bebop legend Barry Harris set to burn up Village Vanguard with 2-week gig". New York Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  5. ^ Watrous, Peter. "Be-Bop's Generous Romantic", The New York Times, May 28, 1994. Accessed June 2, 2008. "Mr. Harris moved to New York in the early 1960s and became friends with Thelonious Monk and Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, Mr. Monk's patron. Eventually, Mr. Harris moved to her estate in Weehawken, N.J., where he still lives."
  6. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (1988). Jazz The Essential Companion. New York: Prentice Hall Press. ISBN 0-13-509274-4.
  7. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2012). All Music Guide to Jazz: The Definitive Guide to Jazz music. USA: Hal Leonard Publishing. ISBN 0-87930-717-X. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  8. ^ Greg Thomas (July 16, 2012). "Bebop legend Barry Harris set to burn up Village Vanguard with 2-week gig". New York Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "Evolutionary Voicings, Part 1 – Howard Rees' Jazz Workshops". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  10. ^ "About Howard Rees – Howard Rees' Jazz Workshops". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  11. ^ "Barry Harris Residency April 7 through 10". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  12. ^ "Larry Ridley - Biography". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  13. ^ "Recognition Awards to Barry Harris for Outstanding Devotion to Music and Education". 2014.
  14. ^ "Barry Harris facts, information, pictures". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  15. ^ "The Complete Regent Sessions - Pepper Adams". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  16. ^ "Barry Harris at the Jazz Workshop - Barry Harris". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  17. ^ "Barry Harris Discography". Retrieved December 20, 2018.

External linksEdit