High Voltage

High Voltage

Eddie Harris’ first live album for Atlantic features the electric saxophonist leading his regular quartet in two different settings, one from each coast. “The Children’s Song and “Is There a Place For Us” were taped in October 1968 at Shelley’s Manne-Hole in Hollywood, while the rest of the songs were recorded at the Village Gate in Manhattan on April 19, 1969. At this time, you couldn’t do much better than catch Harris at such a club. He represented a touch of everything that was going on in 1969: A bit of rubbery funk blended with Coltrane-influenced jazz, blended with a pinch of psychedelia. Most crucially, Harris believed at this time that everything he played in a club should be danceable. He worked with a muscular rhythm section featuring Melvin Jackson on bass and either Billy Hart or Richard Smith on drums. Captured in organic detail by Tom Dowd’s microphones, there isn’t a bad performance here, and the woozy soundscape of “The Children’s Song” is a particular pleasure. However, the key tracks are undoubtedly “Movin’ On Out,” “Funky Doo” and “Listen Here,” in which Jackson’s bass wiggles within the rhythm like a frisky python.

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