Gene Harris Day

September 1, 1933 – January 16, 2000

A tribute to the swinging and soulful pianist

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Pianist Gene Harris was born September 1, 1933 in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

After serving in the Army where he played in a military band during 1951-54, Harris formed The Three Sounds, a trio with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Bill Dowdy.

The Three Sounds caught on, particularly after they started recording for Blue Note in 1956.

Harris’ playing mixed together the influences of Oscar Peterson, gospel music and his own soulful musical personality.

By the late 1960s the Three Sounds’ personnel was changing and their recordings were becoming more commercial but Harris continued with a solo career.

During 1977-81, Gene Harris retired from the jazz scene, settling in Boise, Idaho where he performed locally and started a jazz festival.

In 1981 he was persuaded by bassist Ray Brown (who became his manager) to return and Gene Harris’ last 19 years (part of which he spent playing with the Ray Brown Trio) were busy, including leading the Philip Morris Superband, and his own swinging quartets.

Here is the Gene Harris Quartet performing an enjoyable miniset from 1994.


Gene Harris, piano
Ron Eschete, guitar
Luther Hughes, bass
Paul Humphrey, drums

-Scott Yanow 


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