Second-generation bop pianist Barry Harris puts the spotlight on the songs in this 1960 solo excursion. Split between standards and originals, the set hears the 31-year-old pianist evoking Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and occasional hints of Fats Waller in performances that defy easy classification as bop, swing, or mainstream. Essentially, it's Harris working within the songs, opening up new pathways in and around the melodic and harmonic structures. The opening track, "Londonderry Air" (aka "Danny Boy"), provides a clue to Harris' method. He plays the song straight, but subtly brings out the simple, fresh, and elegant possibilities in the traditional folk melody. The same creative process is worked out on the other tracks, which allude to Harris' key influences, but also make clear his own contribution -- an appealingly updated, modernistic approach -- to the jazz piano tradition. Among the standards, "Body and Soul" is given a thoughtful, illuminating reading. "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" is handled with a natural, sophisticated ease. The centerpieces are the originals "Ascension" and "Anachronism." The former, the most boppish track on the CD, has a long shifting melody that lets Harris tastefully demonstrate the depth of his technical and improvisational skills. "Anachronism" is a blues, pure and simple, a timeless statement drawn from the tradition and from Harris' unique ability to keep the tradition vital and progressive.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Todd