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EDDIE HARRIS

When Eddie Harris appeared as a guest-artist-cum-godfather on Hand Jive, the hit 1994 disc by John Scofield, it helped confirm the extraordinary impact Harris's music has had on two generations of jazz players. You hear Harris in the music of Scofield and his contemporaries, musicians who grew up listening to almost as much rock and funk as jazz; you also hear it in the acid-jazz players intent on tacking a 90s perspective onto the jazz funk of the 60s and 70s--an idiom that Harris helped patent. Eddie Harris seems to do everything with a funky and, for many of us, irresistible swagger. But Harris also owns one of the most stupefyingly original and technically accomplished tenor-sax styles, filled with intrepid octave leaps and graceful feathery notes: if you sit 20 yards from the stage, you can barely see his fingers moving on even the most furious passages, a testament to his controlled economy. Unfortunately, Harris's majestic virtuosity tends to escape those who get lost in his street-smart imagery. In the mid-60s he applied his vibrant, soulful sound to an infectious shuffle swing of his own design, a beat that paved the way for fusion jazz and modern house music. And ever since he scored an unexpected, million-copy success by recording the movie theme "Exodus," Harris has earned the disrespect of the hard-core jazz crowd--a situation exacerbated by his use of electronic sax enhancements in the 60s and again in the 70s when he produced an entire album of X-rated onstage monologues. But "listen here" (to borrow the title of one Harris tune) for some of the hardest-swinging, most intensely personal saxophonics in modern music. Harris has been extremely ill over the last year, but his latest album, Dancing by a Rainbow (Enja), has as much spunk and vinegar as anything he has recorded in the last decade, with some cogent remakes of older tunes and his uniquely engaging shuffle running rampant at a variety of tempos. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, May 5, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 670-2473. NEIL TESSER

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