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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, January 31, 2005

To Barry Harris, at the Albright-Knox Art of Jazz program yesterday afternoon. Harris is the sort of musician you drop everything to see when he comes to town-- he's been around forever, so he won't be around for ever; he's played with everyone, so you know he can really play; and he comes to town only rarely-- last time through Buffalo was 1960. Louis Armstrong was on the bill. (He said they played "at the stadium"-- I took this to mean the Rockpile, and I'd love to know more about that show.) He came on stage walking with a cane, and although his playing was muscular, he seemed somewhat distracted and distant. After a couple of numbers he warmed up, though, and as the set progressed he warmed to the crowd. Come to find out he was suffering with a gout attack-- but he pulled himself together marvelously . This was pure bebop piano trio stuff: "Ruby, My Dear", "A Night In Tunisia", some Tadd Dameron, inside the changes with "What A Friend We Have In Jesus". At the end he wanted to sing a song he'd composed on the changes to "Embraceable You". "I usually have an accompanist on piano," he announced. "Is there a piano player in the house?" There was, a woman who introduced herself as Lisa, who demonstrated that she knew her way around the 88s a little herself. She was so good it was comic, with Harris and the other members of the trio openly impressed. At the same time, she seemed quite modest, almost bashful. As it happened, she was sitting directly in front of us-- I watched the guy she was with urge her: "Go on. Go ahead." She played with her back to the audience, obviously enjoying herself, letting herself get into it, then showing off a little, but she very modestly took her seat when the song was over. She didn't give her last name.
UPDATE: Lisa Hasselback

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