I picked up a Eddie Harris album at a thrift store the other day. I’d never heard of him so it was kind of a risk. On the other hand, it was a jazz album on the Atlantic label. On the other hand the album title is pretty obnoxious, and the cover art even more so. On the other hand the names of the tracks were intriguing. And he plays a sax, my old instrument. And it was only a buck. So I got it.
I’m glad I did. It’s kind of a mixed bag. It’s all good. But it’s all kinds of good. It starts out with a funky electrified tenor saxophone jam called “Funkaroma” This is followed by “Happy Gemini” and “Is it in.” Both of these tracks are pretty funky and will having you bobbing your head. “Is it in” reminds me of a slightly dirty version of the Cosby Show theme. Then comes “It’s War,” a track that starts out with crickets, and an indistinct invocation by Mr. Harris. This is followed by layer upon layer of various percussion. It’s like trance music. Great. Side A mellows with the last track “Space Commercial” featuring synth-sax. This song is like what the saxophone solos of 80’s movies wanted to be–chill and funky, and not cheesy, just good.
When we flip the record we get another groove that makes me dance a bit more, “Look Ahere.” At “These Lonely Nights” we’re back in space, a dissonant electric piano kind of space. It’s Tron crossed with an old Vincent Price movie vibe. Then Harris comes in with his saxophone and clears your nightmares and tucks you back into bed. This song gets so pretty it’s ridiculous. Eventually he leads you back to space, but this time is nice a peaceful and floaty. I think it ends with whale song. Next is “House Party Blues.” Thirty seconds into this one and I knew I didn’t want it stop. And it doesn’t for about eight minutes. Good old foot stomping piano & guitargan blues. The album ends with its most challenging piece, “Tranquility & Antagonistic.” There’s some Charlie Parker type stuff here. The kind of thing that might remind some of a junior high trumpet player having a go at his friends sax, pushing buttons as fast as he can. But you know, there’s got to be songs that you can’t dance or make-out to out there as well.
I’m glad I have this album. I’m glad I listened to it a few times. It gets better each go. I’ll definitley keep an eye out for more of Eddie Harris. Here is most of Is It In.