Eddie Harris | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Eddie Harris

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Sure he was just in town (in fact Eddie Harris appeared in three different contexts at the recent Jazz Fest), and sure, he played here earlier in the summer with Les McCann. And yes, you need to see him again--if only because this time, Harris gets to run his own show. But there's more: By all the relevant criteria, Harris ranks as a saxophonist and innovator of the first order. He possesses an explosive technique--I can't name a more virtuosic modern saxist--and he has created a unique, instantly recognizable system of improvising; he has built upon the music's tradition and incorporated new elements, arriving at a quirky, angular swing that's all but inimitable. (Yet Harris tends to receive attention for his monologues, his invented instruments, his funky collaboration with McCann--almost everything except the thing he does absolutely best.) In recent years, he has warmed to his position as a jazz guru--these days, he's even sporting a shaved head--by educating younger musicians on the bandstand. One of them, trumpeter Brad Goode--who benefited from performing with Harris at the Jazz Showcase last year--leads the backing quartet for this weekend's engagement. It's a frontline tandem promising fire, flash, and pure hell-raising improvisation, and you'd be crazy to miss it. Tonight through Sunday, High Hat Club, 812 N. Franklin; 787-6333.

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