Barry Harris

Newer Than New

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A quick listen to the lively bop on Newer Than New may enlist a perplexing question: Was this music really recorded 40 years ago? Apparently so, but the music still sounds fresh and exciting. If pianist Harris set out to show bop was still a vital force in 1961, he accomplished his task. Of course he didn't do this alone. Trumpeter Lonnie Hillyer, alto Charles McPherson, bassist Ernie Farrow, and drummer Clifford Jarvis join him on eight tunes that would've made Parker and Gillespie proud. The influence of bop pioneers is evident on tunes like "The Last One" and "Anthropology," both giving the horns lots of room to soar against the backdrop of dynamic rhythm. "Mucho Dinero," one of several Harris originals, has an exuberant Latin feel. After the horns set the piece in motion, Harris takes the first solo, creating colorful textures with his keen sense of harmony. Newer Than New also places special emphasis on the young horn players, providing McPherson and Hillyer lots of room to show what they've got. Both echo Parker and Gillespie without copying them. Hillyer displays a fat rich tone on numbers like "Easy to Love," while McPherson's resonant pitch, no matter how quickly he's playing, always comes across. Farrow and Jarvis keep the shifting rhythms heavy in the mix, pushing each soloist to create something vital. The title Newer Than New perhaps mocks the obsession with the latest thing, as opposed to opting for the timelessness of high-octane improvising. Jazz styles, like all styles, come and go, but great music like Newer than New transcends styles. It's also fun (and illustrative) to listen to an album like this back to back with the latest retro jazz. Barry Harris and his colleagues make great jazz without the least bit of self-consciousness.

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