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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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JOE HARRIOTT

The Joe Harriott Story

Proper PROPERBOX 160

 

 


CD1
1. Cherokee
2. Out Of Nowhere
3. Summertime
4. April In Paris

Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Dill Jones - Piano
Jack Fallon- Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

5. Last Resort
6. Best Behaviour
7. How Deep Is The Ocean ?
8. Get Happy

Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Bill Le Sage - Vibes, piano
Sammy Stokes - Bass
Tony Kinsey - Drums

9. Akee Blues

Buddy Pipp - Conga
Pete Pitterson - Trumpet
Joe Harriott, Bruce Turner - Alto saxes
Oscar McKay - Piano
Denny Wright - Guitar
Joe Sampson - Bass
Tony Kinsey - Drums
Alf Hayward - Maracas

10. Jump For Me
11. Can't We Be Friends?
12. Raymond - Overture Theme
13. Nice Work If You Can Get It

Personnel as for tracks 5-8

14. Chirracahaua
15. Teddi
16. The Song Is You
17. It Don't Mean A Thing

Personnel as for tracks 5-8

CD2
1. Blues In Threes

Kenny Baker - Trumpet
Joe Harriott, Bruce Turner, Bertie King - Alto saxes
Keith Christie - Trombone
Jimmy Skidmore - Tenor sax
Harry Klein - Baritone sax
Dill Jones - Piano
Cedric West - Guitar
Frank Clarke - Bass
Eric Delaney - Drums

2. Introduction
3. Harlem
4. She's Funny That Way
5. Fascinating Rhythm

Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Bill Le Sage - Vibes, piano
Eric Dawson - Bass
Tony Kinsey - Drums

6. I'll Remember April
7. Easy To Love

Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Max Harris - Piano
Sammy Stokes - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums
Dave McCullum, Sid Kamine, David Katz - Violins
Louis Rosin - Viola
Fred Alexander - Cello
Maria Korchinska - Harp

8. You'll Never Know

Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Bill Le Sage - Vibes, piano
Eric Dawson - Bass
Tony Kinsey - Drums
Lita Roza - Vocals

9. Just Goofin'
10. Everything Happens To Me
11. Just Friends
12. Joe's Blues

Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Max Harris - Piano
Sammy Stokes - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

13. Bang
14. A Night In Tunisia
15. The Big Fist

Stan Palmer, Hank Shaw, Dave Usden, Jimmy Watson - Trumpets
Jack Botterill, Robin Kaye, Mac Minshull, Ken Wray - Trombones
Joe Harriott, Doug Robinson - Alto saxes
Pete King, Ronnie Scott - Tenor saxes
Benny Green - Baritone sax
Norman Stenfalt - Piano
Eric Peter - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

16. Blues Original
17. My Heart Belongs To Daddy

Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Johnny Weed - Piano
Major Holley - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

CD3
1. Still Goofin'
2. Count Twelve
3. Senor Blues
4. Jumpin' With Joe

Hank Shaw - Trumpet
Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Harry South - Piano
Coleridge Goode - Bass
Bobby Orr - Drums

5. Caravan
6. Liggin'
7. Southern Horizons
8. You Go To My Head
9. Tuesday Morning Swing

Shake Keane - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Harry South - Piano
Coleridge Goode - Bass
Bobby Orr - Drums
Frank Holder - Bongoes

10. Formation
11. Coda
12. Abstract
13. Impression

Shake Keane - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Pat Smythe - Piano
Coleridge Goode - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

CD4
1. Parallel
2. Straight Lines
3. Calypso Sketches
4. Tempo

Shake Keane - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Pat Smythe - Piano
Coleridge Goode - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

5. Tuesday Morning Swing
6. A Time For Love
7. The Rake
8. Blues In C
9. Shepherd's Serenade
10. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
11. Strollin' South
12. Just Goofin'

Stu Hamer - Trumpet
Joe Harriott - Alto sax
Pat Smythe - Piano
Coleridge Goode - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

The album title is inadequate, as this four-disc collection only illustrates parts of Joe Harriott's musical career. His "story" is still incomplete, even after the publication of an authoritative biography by Alan Robertson. There are still many gaps in our knowledge of this extraordinary musician. We know that Joe was born in Jamaica in 1928 and came to Britain in 1951, where he quickly established his reputation - at least among other musicians and keen jazz enthusiasts, although he never became a household name. He died in 1973 at the age of 44. His recordings have not been widely available since then, so this compilation is welcome, even though it omits some important examples of his playing.

Right from the first track, Cherokee, you can hear how Harriott's phrasing on alto sax was influenced by Charlie Parker, although Harriott often used a more legato tone. In fact Cherokee was one of Parker's favourite themes, and he used its chord sequence as the basis for Ko-Ko. Parker's influence on Harriott is clear in Joe's double-time soloing on April in Paris. However, in some later tracks like Teddi, Harriott seems to be closer to a smooth Paul Desmond style. These first four tracks feature the relaxed piano of Dill Jones, who emigrated to the USA in 1961.

It is one bonus of this boxed set that it includes many well-known British musicians of the fifties and sixties, such as Bill Le Sage, Kenny Baker, Keith Christie, Harry Klein and Tony Kinsey. Bruce Turner appears on Akee Blues, which Joe recorded in 1954 with a group led by percussionist Buddy Pipp. It was one of a pair of recordings made by producer Denis Preston aimed at the African market.

Joe Harriott's acceptance by the British jazz cognoscenti is exemplified by Blues In Threes (a track lasting more than ten minutes), where he plays in a group assembled by trumpeter Kenny Baker. Joe gets to play a long solo, as do his fellow altoists, Bruce Turner and Bertie King.

Harriott follows in Charlie Parker's footsteps by being recorded with strings in I'll Remember April and Easy To Love, with Maria Korchinska's harp prominent among the accompanists. As in the "Parker with strings" sessions, Joe plays the melodies straight before jazzing them up a little. His lighter side is also shown in You'll Never Know, where he is part of the Tony Kinsey Quartet with sentimental singer Lita Roza. But the second CD contains examples of Harriott's bebop proclivities in such tracks as A Night In Tunisia with the Ronnie Scott Orchestra.

Joe found a kindred spirit in trumpeter Shake Keane, who appears in several tracks on the third CD. Bassist Colerigdge Goode is another welcome presence, doing his "humming along with the bass" solo on Count Twelve. Bobby Orr comes across as a more beboppish drummer than I have heard in recent years. Percussionist Frank Holder is added for several tunes, including a ragged but exhilarating Caravan. Such vigorous numbers are mixed with tender ballads like You Go To My Head.

From track 10 onwards, there is an abrupt gear-change to what Harriott described as "abstract" music. Some reviewers have hailed this as a worthwhile change of direction for Joe but it strikes me as suffering from the faults of much "free form" jazz. Tracks like Coda and Straight Lines show the group resorting to squeaks and squeals in avant-garde style. The redeeming feature is that each track tends to start with a kind of tune before moving into free improvisation, which is similar to what Ornette Coleman was pioneering in America. Harriott is said to have set out on this new path before Ornette Coleman explored it, but Joe's recordings in this mode on the third and fourth CD date from 1960, a year or two after Coleman's innovative albums appeared (although Joe may not have heard them).

The mood suddenly changes back to conventional bebop, with eight tracks recorded in 1967. These tracks were recorded by record-shop owner Doug Dobell, and the recording quality is boxy and less clear than the other recordings. The sleeve-note says that Polka Dots and Moonbeams took 19 takes to get right, which may explain the rather tortured sound that Joe creates.

I suggested that this boxed set, useful as it is, doesn't tell Joe Harriott's whole story. Among other things, it omits his collaboration with John Mayer on Indo-Jazz Fusions and his experiments with "jazz and poetry". There is also some disagreement between the listing of the tunes on the box and on the inner sleeve, which makes it hard to distinguish who is doing what. But this boxed set is a long-overdue survey of Harriott's work.

Tony Augarde

www.augardebooks.co.uk



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