Bill Harris (musician)

Willard Palmer Harris (October 28, 1916[1] – August 21, 1973)[2] was an American jazz trombonist.[3]

Bill Harris
Bill Harris, 1947, Photo: William P. Gottlieb
Bill Harris, 1947, Photo: William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth nameWillard Palmer Harris
Born(1916-10-28)October 28, 1916
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 21, 1973(1973-08-21) (aged 56)
Hallandale, Florida
Years active1938–1960s
LabelsMercury, EmArcy, Norgran, Dial, Capitol, Verve, Fantasy, Mode


Harris was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.[1] Early in his career, Harris performed with Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, and Eddie Condon.[1] He is remembered for his broad, thick tone and quick vibrato, that remained for the duration of each tone. He joined Woody Herman's First Herd in 1944.[1] He was also in the Four Brothers Second Herd during the late 1940s, and he worked with Herman again in the 1950s.[2] He then teamed up with Charlie Ventura[1] and later with Chubby Jackson.[2] Together with Flip Phillips, he became a stalwart of Benny Goodman's group in 1959,[2] although it has been said that Goodman was frequently irritated at Harris because of Harris' indifferent approach to "sight-reading," the skill of playing previously unseen written music with fluency, an ability which Goodman and trumpeter Harry James both possessed. As an improviser, Harris seemed comfortable playing among divergent stylists, as shown on Jazz at the Philharmonic recordings, as his "one-off" style seemed to work in any context, from Dixieland, to swing, or bebop.[1]

His solo on "Bijou" with Herman remains a classic, while his idiosyncratic treatment of the ballad, "Everything Happens to Me", is known for its vocality, and his treatment of the ballad "Everywhere" was inspiration for Roswell Rudd's free-contrapuntal "Everywhere." Later, Harris worked in Las Vegas, Nevada, finally retiring to Florida.[1]

Harris died in Hallandale, Florida, in August 1973, at the age of 56.[2]


As leaderEdit

  • Bill Harris Herd (Norgran, 1956)
  • Bill Harris and Friends (Fantasy, 1957) – with Ben Webster
  • Live at the 3 Deuces! – with Charlie Ventura (Phoenix Jazz, 1975)
  • Aces at the Deuces – with Charlie Ventura (Phoenix Jazz, 1976)

As sidemanEdit

With Woody Herman

  • Blues Groove (Capitol, 1956)
  • Songs for Hip Lovers (Verve, 1957)
  • Woody Herman and His Orchestra '58 Featuring the Preacher (Columbia, 1958)

With Charlie Ventura

  • Jumping with Ventura (EmArcy, 1955)
  • Carnegie Hall Concert (Columbia, 1956)
  • East of Suez (Regent, 1958)

With others


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Bill Harris | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  3. ^ John Shepherd (8 July 2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: VolumeII: Performance and Production. A&C Black. p. 463. ISBN 978-0-8264-6322-7.

External linksEdit