Barry Harris

Barry Doyle Harris (December 15, 1929 – December 8, 2021) was an American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, arranger, and educator. He was an exponent of the bebop style.

Harris was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 15, 1929. Harris began learning the piano at the age of four. His mother, a church pianist, asked him if he was interested in playing church music or jazz. Having picked the latter, he was influenced by Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. In his teens, he learned bebop largely by ear, imitating solos by Powell. He described Powell’s style as being the “epitome” of jazz. He performed for dances in clubs and ballrooms. He was based in Detroit through the 1950s and worked with Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, and Thad Jones, and substituted for Junior Mance in the Gene Ammons band. In 1956, he toured briefly with Max Roach, after Richie Powell, the band’s pianist and younger brother of Bud Powell, died in a car crash.

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