Eddie Harris

(1934 – 1966)

Eddie Harris was born in Chicago. He was a high school friend of the great producer arranger Charles Stepney. Harris was a one-of-a-kind, non-conformist multi-instrumentalist whose first recording, a saxophone rendition of the theme from the movie “Exodus” (1961), was a pop instrumental hit.  Harris went to become one of the first jazz musicians to “plugin,” playing his horn through a Varitone attachment, which netted him another hit, 1966’s “The Tender Storm.” Later, he sang through a synthesized saxophone and employed a guitarist on a customized instrument that was made to sound like a Hammond B-3 organ.

Throughout his career, Harris was a tireless experimenter, playing saxophones with brass mouthpieces and trumpets with reids. He wrote several books, including “The Intervalistic Concept for All Single Line Instruments,” an elaboration for saxophone of a piano style based on intervals.

Harris’ composition “Freedom Jazz Dance” became a jazz standard after Miles Davis recorded it.  Harris enjoyed renewed popularity with Les McCann’s funk/jazz group, beginning in 1969 when they performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. 

In the latter half of his career, Harris incorporated vocals into his performances, as well as stand-up comedy. His recorded output was enormous.

Harris has been sampled and covered many times, most memorably by the Jungle Brothers.

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