Jazz Times Magazine
In accompanying press release, Allan Harris compares his deep dive into Eddie Jefferson's groundbreaking oeuvre to "taking a master class at MIT." No question that navigating the tricky, rapid-fire, street-smart wordplay of vocalese--an artform Jefferson is widely credited with creating and of which he remains the undisputed champ, even 39 years after his untimely death--is a daunting endeavor. But although he's best knownw for his buttery tributes to Nat "King" Cole and billy Eckstine, Harris ranks among the most dexterous singers around, and he proves fully up to the challenge. Indeed it's intriguing to hear these 10 gems--mostly vocalese, plus such covers as...
Tribute To A Murdered Singer
Singer Eddie Jefferson was killed in cold blood in 1979 Detroit at the age of 60 as he walked out of Baker’s Keyboard
Lounge. The Pittsburgh native is generally acknowledged as the main pioneer of jazz vocalese. Brooklyn singer Allan
Harris has already lost himself in tributes of Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole. The Genius Of Eddie Harris (Resilience Music
Alliance) has him more gruff than usual in tackling a singer who even hip-hop lyricists like Rakim, Chuck D and KRS
One have hailed as an exemplar of funky street slang wordplay. Trenton saxophonist Richie Cole was with Jefferson that
Jazz CD Review: “The Genius of EddieJefferson” — Performed by Allan Harris
May 24, 2018
Singer Allan Harris clearly loves Eddie Jefferson’s music and performs it with sincerity and chops.
JAZZIZ "Male Delivery"
The fraternity of enduring male jazz voices is a fairly selective one. It encompasses singers who straddled the line between jazz and blues, like Big Joe Turner and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and others who had a foot in jazz and another in the pop world, like Billy Eckstine or Al Hibbler, whose roots in the big bands of the 1930s and '40s. Nat "king" Cole and Frank Sinatra could lay claiEddie Jefferson, who honed a method to incorporate the breathless excitement of bebop into their singing, an approach that was labeled "vocalese."
Allan Harrisalso fits into more than one of these categories, his selection of material covering jazz standards, blues, rock, R&B and even cowboy music, during his 20-plus year career. Anticipating Jefferson's centennial in August, Harris salutes the late singer on his most ambitious jazz recording yet, The Genius of Eddie Jefferson (Resilience Music Alliance). Harris had dipped a toe into the...
JAZZ WEEKLY: GEORGE W. HARRIS
IMPORTANT MALE VOICES...
In this day of most singers relying on The Great American Songbook, two singers take on a path less traveled, and that makes all the difference. Honey toned Allan Harris keeps it hip and bopping on this tribute to vocalese master Eddie Jefferson. He even brings in one of Jefferson’s sidemen, alto madman Richie Cole, along with a hip team of Eric Reed/p, Willie Jones III/dr, George De Lancey/b and Ralph Moore/ts.
With the hip horns, he digs in dip on a snappy “Sister Sadie” and bounces to the Manteca riff on “Filthy McNasty.” He digs deep like a ditch digger on a nimble “So What?” and is as relaxed as Pres himself on “Lester’s Trip to the Moon.” A warm and calm “Body and Soul” shows Harris’ ability to keep the blood pressure down, while he adds a soulful lilt to the popular “Jeannine.” When’s this guy hitting So Cal?
ALLAN HARRIS – “THE GENIUS OF EDDIE JEFFERSON”
Resilience Music Alliance
Allan Harris, vocals; Eric Reed, piano; George DeLancey, bass; Willie Jones III, drums; Ralph Moore, tenor saxophone; SPECIAL GUEST, Richie Cole, alto saxophone.
Eddie Jefferson’s awesome sound and vocal summersaults have long been a favorite of mine. Jefferson’s lyrics are superbly written and sung at paces that challenge the average vocalist. I was eager to hear Mr. Allan Harris’s interpretation of the genius of Eddie Jefferson and I was not disappointed. He has chosen some of Jefferson’s challenging melodies and creative prose to express himself. You will hear the familiar “So What,” “Sister Sadie,” and “Filthy McNasty.” Harris has a smooth, balladeer tone, but tackles the Straight-ahead and Swing successfully. He trades fours lyrically with the musicians on “Dexter Digs In” and doesn’t miss a beat. Prior to this production, Allan Harris recorded the songs of Billy Strayhorn and paid homage to Nat King Cole. This may be his most challenging tribute to date. “Billy’s bounce” is a mouth-full of words sung at an up-tempo pace. Harris makes it sound easy, but believe me, it isn’t. The band is a tight fit that supports each song with precision and agility. These musicians really swing! If you love the legacy of Eddie Jefferson, you will enjoy this smooth interpretation of his genius works by the very talented Allan Harris.
ALLAN HARRIS "JazzTimes Magazine"
Mentored by Icons, Personalizing Black History
David R. Adler
Here's an enviable yet daunting circumstance: warming up the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Downtown Manhattan before the Jack DeJohnette/Dave Holland/Jason Moran trio takes the stage. In late August, singer and guitarist Allan Harris faced that challenge and won over the crowd with apparent ease. Being personally mentored by Tony Bennett can have that effect (more about Bennett in a moment). Touring and recording steadily for over 20 years, even more so.
Harris...played material from his 2015 album Black Bar Jukebox and its 2016 follow-up Nobody's Gonna Love You Better: Black Bar Jukebox Redux. These releases, both produced by veteran jazz A&R man Brian Bacchus, have brought Harris' artistry into sharp focus, painting a deeply personal portrait through originals, standards and unexpected detours into classic pop, rock and soul. There's a strong "working band" identity as well... (read more)
DownBeat Critic's Award
Rising Star Jazz Vocalist
Allan Harris gets bored easily. "I've done a love song," said the singer. "Now I want to move on to something else." An ability to convincingly inhabit a hodge-podge of styles and genres--soul stirring in dialects ranging from Ray Charles to Luther Vandross, swinging standards with idiomatic Frank Sinatra-Tony Bennett flair, crooning ballads that evoke nat "King" Cole at his most heartfeld, rocking out on the blues and signifying with raw electric guitar fulfilling the singer-songwriter function with well crafted lyrics--has been Harris' trademark during four professional decades. (read more)
REVIEW: Allan Harris “Kate’s Soulfood” (Love Productions) –
Soul & Jazz & Funk
January 28, 2021
By Bill Buckley, Soul & Jazz & Funk
Allan Harris is a Brooklyn-born, Harlem-based soul and jazz vocalist/guitarist/bandleader/composer who made his recording debut way back in 1994 with ‘Setting The Standard’. Since then, he’s released over a dozen acclaimed long players, shared stages with people like Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Diana Krall, Abbey Lincoln, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau, Al Green, Lee Ritenour, Michael Feinstein, Cassandra Wilson, and Wynton Marsalis and performed all over the world. However, Allan is still something of a mainstream unknown in the UK and Europe despite a spellbinding performance during the London Olympics, regularly working with the London Jazz Festival Orchestra and being described as “My favourite singer” by a certain Tony Bennett. Read more here.
REVIEW: MARLBANK (LONDON)
No one is holding a gun to my head forcing me to press replay after replay where upcoming Kate's Soulfood by singer-guitarist Allan Harris is concerned. It's just obvious the need to keep listening for more to get even more detail. The overall Kamau Kenyatta sound is no everyday experience. The producer bottles warmth and humanity, something he did to perfection on Gregory Porter's early records. Harris likes the Kenyatta flavour, knows the shape of the mood he creates, and above all how to respond. From a few of Harris' past records it is clear that the New Yorker can sing the phone book. Here he achieves new heights accessing a different directory. Best songs are clearly the talked-in back from the brink 'Wash Away My Sins' that unveils a horn arrangement to die for and some engaged female backing vocals folded in to enhance and embellish the journeying on. Missing-you strivers song '99 Miles' later in the album has instant classic written all over it, get over its soppiness. Not for cynics, songs like any of these do not come along very often and sprinkled through there are a couple more of the same high quality (tearjerker 'Color of a Woman is Blu' especially). Where the album grooves most is on 'Shallow Man'. A wisdom of the elders, Harlem-as-universe reflection looking to the inside-you as much as the blues of the outside world, imagine as the ultimate test hearing Kate's Soulfood over the PA in the most meaningful jazz place in your life where you know that you are most real and feel most completely alive. Figure out if these sounds match. For me, it's completely natural that they do and because it is also a seriously hot prospect of a jazz record. SG. On Love Productions. Out on 12 February 2021. Photo of Allan Harris, top: Gulnara Khamatova