Barry Harris is part of an exceptional crew of Detroit-bred jazz musicians, including and, who rose through the extraordinary arts education program in the public school system during the 1930s and 1940s. Harris' earliest musical mentor was a church piano-playing mother who exposed him to piano lessons at age four.
The Barry Harris Workshop Great bebop. Interesting learning materials derived from The Barry Harris Workshop DVD and Barry Harris. Jazz Standards PDF for.
He became seriously immersed in jazz in the mid-1940s and fell under the spell of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Bud Powell. As a professional, he would become a key translator of Monk's music. Detroit was blessed with a high-energy jazz scene during the 1940s, and Harris was house pianist at one of the hottest spots, the Blue Bird Lounge. At the Blue Bird and later at the Rouge, he backed such traveling soloists as, Wardell Gray,, Sonny Stitt,, and Lester Young. Displaying an early interest in passing the torch through education, Harris began teaching his bebop theories as early as 1956, tutoring young talent such as. It is a tradition he has carried on throughout his life.
At the urging of Cannonball Adderley, Harris left Detroit in 1960 and moved to New York. In addition to Adderley, Harris found work in the 1960s and 1970s with fellow Detroiter, Charles McPherson, and Coleman Hawkins. In addition to sideman work, Harris led various trios and duos at piano bars and restaurants around New York. He also began to get work as an arranger and composer, showing a particular adeptness for his treatment of strings.
A consummate freelancer, he found work in a variety of diverse settings and continued to play, inaugurating the Lincoln Center's Penthouse piano series in 1997. By the early 1980s, Harris' acumen as a teacher and mentor to developing pianists had become legendary. He was able to expand these interests when he opened the Jazz Cultural Center in 1982 on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
The Center served as workshop, educational facility, and performance space for Harris and his affiliated artists, but unfortunately only lasted until 1987. Harris soldiered on, though, continuing to teach and mentor young musicians, holding weekly workshop sessions in New York City for aspiring performers. He also continues to present and produce annual multimedia concert spectaculars at places like Symphony Space and the Manhattan Center in New York.
Selected Discography Chasin' The Bird, Original Jazz Classics, 1962 Barry Harris Plays Tadd Dameron, Classics, 1975 For The Moment, Uptown, 1984 Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 1 & 2, Concord, 1990 Live from New York, Vol 1, Lineage, 2004.
Jazz, as many other writers have pointed out, is increasingly taught in high schools and universities. It has become 'institutionalized.'
This has had an obvious impact on the way the music is taught. Instructional guides are not new--you can find books on how to play and improvise jazz going back to at least the 1920s. But the amount of pedagogical material has exploded in the past 20+ years. A student today has a surprisingly large number of approaches or methods to choose from. None of the teachers I've had were dogmatic in their adherence to a particular methodology, but they did have preferences. In high school I was exposed to the Jamey Aebersold approach--basically a scale-chord method.
You derive the melodic material you want to play from a scale or set of scales. There is more to it than this, and the Aebersold world is also closely connected to legendary jazz educator David N. Baker and his ideas on playing jazz.
For all its limitations, and there are problems with such a heavy focus on scales (see ), the Aebersold approach has introduced many, many musicians to the music. One of the central messages of all his instructional materials is that anyone can learn to play the music. With so much mystification around the process of improvisation, that remains an important lesson. A few years ago, I attended the Stanford Jazz Workshop--a week-long, all-ages summer 'camp.'
Download Free Software Garageband Jam Pack Rar there. That program is structured around the ideas of bebop pianist Barry Harris. The 'Harris Method' is structured more explicitly around bop practice and focuses on creating smooth chromatic melodies through the use of certain 'rules' (for example, descending from the tonic, 3rd, 5th or 7th of a major scale add one half-step between the 6th and 5th degree). There is obviously much more to it, but the system is less about learning specific scales (e.g. Lydian augmented) than about chromatically manipulating major and scales.
Where things get interesting is in the harmonic underpinnings of this approach. For Harris the diminished scale has a foundational importance for the derivation of all the harmonic materials a player will use. Out of this focus on the diminished come a set of scales, what he calls sixth-diminished scales: a major (or minor) sixth chord combined with a 'related' diminished chord. Although I attended Harris's workshops during my time at the camp, I wasn't sure how to incorporate his ideas into my playing. It seemed to involve a very different orientation to navigating the changes melodically as a soloist or harmonically as a 'comping instrument. It was only a few years later that I found myself returning to the Harris material. Frustrated with my 'comping--I felt like I was using the same set of voicings over and over again--I bought and started working through.
That book, along with, have been immensely helpful, gradually changing some of my basic ideas and approaches to improvisation and 'comping. Both Kingstone and Ben-Hur are closely connected to Harris and explain the pianist's ideas in very clear and practical ways. Even more information is now available at, a pay, e-school version of the Harris method (with video lessons by Kingstone and pianist Howard Rees). All this material emphasizes movement--exactly what I wasn't getting with my existing stable of voicings. Thinking about sixth-diminished scales was a difficult transition, but it has proved to be a real breakthrough.
Rather than ii-V, you start to think of moving through these scales. This breaks down to essentially moving inversions of major and minor sixth chords with 'passing' diminished chords in between.
Attached is an example of how a ii-V is reconceptualized as major and minor sixth diminished chords. Here a C-7 to F7 becomes Eb6 dim to Gbmin6 dim (see the Kingstone for a complete explanation. Eb6 is another name for C-7. Gbmin6 gives you a nice altered dominant sound over F7--b9, 3, b13, b7). I worked out all four inversions of each chord (). This is just a start--the real genius of this way of thinking this way comes when you add in those diminished 'passing' chords. Then you add more movement by doing something Kingstone (via Harris) calls 'Sixth on the Fifth': move down from Bb6 to Eb6 then to Gbmin6.
I know this sounds very convoluted but with some time and patience it really starts to pay off. There is more--you can create much richer chords by 'borrowing notes' from the diminished--but this is where I am now. All this is not to tout one system over another. You can get movement with other approaches--for instance just working with inversions of familiar minor seventh/dominant seventh chord voicings and passing diminished chords. In the end, it is more a matter of choosing the path that moves you forward.