Exodus To Jazz

Exodus To Jazz

Eddie Harris stormed out of Chicago in 1961 with his smoky adaptation of the theme from Exodus, which made the Top 40 — a nearly impossible feat for a jazz instrumental in that era. Despite its improbability, it’s not hard to see the appeal of Harris’ rendition. It’s evocative and mysterious, but highly hummable. It perfectly captures the cloistered desires of American men and women in the early '60s, in the last window before rock ‘n’ roll set those desires free. The rest of the album follows in the same path, with Harris’ nimble, masculine tenor dancing over rock solid but lightly swinging backing from pianist Willie Pickens, bassist Bill Yancey, drummer Harold Jones. For those in search of simmering romantic jazz without smarminess there is “Alicia” and “Little Girl Blue.” Following his adaptation of a famous movie theme, someone should have tapped Harris to write his own score. These recordings are perfectly suited to noir iconography, the sound of midnight Cadillac rides and fresh rain on city sidewalks.

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