The bebop pianist Barry Harris communicates elegance and erudition in all that he touches, but he's also a decidedly old-school jazz foot soldier, committed to breezy wit and companionable slang.
Live in Rennes (Plus Loin) finds him in excellent form at a festival in Brittany, France, last fall, not quite six weeks before his 80th birthday. He's working with what amounts to a good pickup rhythm section, and he's rummaging through his carry-on for repertory: songs by Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker, with a few originals and songbook staples mixed in.
The album nicely captures his blend of the casual and the courtly, including his banter with the audience. It's a document worthy of Mr. Harris, and an appetite-whetting prelude to his next trio engagement at the Village Vanguard, from July 20 through 25 (villagevanguard.com).
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