Benefit Concert For Eddie Harris With Ramsey Lewis, Willie Pickens, Wilbur Campbell, And Others | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Benefit Concert For Eddie Harris With Ramsey Lewis, Willie Pickens, Wilbur Campbell, And Others 

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Benefit concert for EDDIE HARRIS with RAMSEY LEWIS, WILlie PICKENS, wilbur campbell, and others I never tire of singing the praises of Chicago-born saxophone innovator Eddie Harris: of his stupefyingly original tenor style, filled with intrepid octave leaps and feathery grace notes; of his Ellingtonian ability to blend majestic virtuosity with street-smart imagery; of the underrated accuracy he brings to his improvised melodies, his phrasing, and even his focused, narrow tone. In past years, Harris - no shrinking violet, and a hell of a scat vocalist - has sung those praises for himself; but these days, laid up with a cascading series of illnesses that have most recently placed his kidneys under siege, he's not doing much singing or sax playing. Treatments and his current hospitalization have all but broken the bank, so musicians in Chicago - where Harris lived into the 1960s - have organized this benefit tribute. The effort features plenty of old friends and even a few former sidemen in pianists Willie Pickens and Jodie Christian (both of whom appeared on hit recordings by Harris). Drummer Wilbur Campbell, bassist Larry Gray, guitar wizard Fareed Haque, and bop-era pianists Stu Katz and Earma Thompson will also perform. Headlining the show, Ramsey Lewis will present a rare segment of solo piano music--providing more evidence of the emotional stakes for this concert, in which you can count on each participant to dig a little deeper to honor a much-loved friend and respected colleague. (Concertgoers should expect to dig a little deeper too: $25 per ticket, more if you've got it, with all proceeds going to Eddie Harris.) Sunday, 3 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 773-776-4196 or 708-339-3928.

NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of Ramsey Lewis.

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