Eddie Harris Sings the Blues

Eddie Harris Sings the Blues

Arguably the artistic high point of Eddie Harris’ early-'70s career, Eddie Harris Sings the Blues contains some of the saxophonist’s most haunting and fragile songs, including “A Child Is Born” and “Please Let Me Go,” in which Harris sings through his horn as an orchestra gradually materializes behind him like a velvet mirage. The effect is reprised on the title song, an achingly slow stoned blues that is spiritual kin to Sly Stone’s “Just Like a Baby” and Miles Davis’ “Little Church.” Amid all this abstraction is “Ten Minutes To Four,” arguably the most muscular, forward-moving piece Harris ever recorded. Fueled by the awesome bass-and-drum combo of Rufus Reid and Billy James, the song is written in 10/4 time, a signature that makes is feel like it is always coming up from behind, nipping at the listener’s heels. At the time Harris caught a lot of flak from jazz purists for his bold innovations, and as if to silence the old guard he closes this brave album with a virile reading of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”— the kind of song that gives even studious sax players nightmares.

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