Benny Harris

"Little" Benny Harris (April 23, 1919 in New York City – May 11, 1975 in San Francisco) was an American bebop trumpeter and composer.

A self-taught musician, in the mid-1930s Benny Harris was already playing with Thelonious Monk. In later years, he participated to some of the jam sessions that gave birth to the bebop jazz style. Reportedly, it was Harris that persuaded Dizzy Gillespie of Charlie Parker's ability by playing one of Parkers's improvisations to Gillespie.

Harris's first major gig was in 1939 with Tiny Bradshaw. He played with Earl Hines on and off from 1941 to 1945, and worked the 52nd Street bebop circuit in New York City in the 1940s, where he collaborated with Benny Carter, John Kirby, Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas, and Thelonious Monk. He was with Boyd Raeburn from 1944–45 and Clyde Hart in 1944; he and Byas worked together again in 1945. He played less in the late 1940s, though he appeared with Dizzy Gillespie in 1949 and Charlie Parker in 1952. Tina Brooks' biographer, Michael Cuscuna reports that Harris was still performing around New York in 1957 (at the Blue Morocco jazz club in the Bronx), entertaining relationships with fellow musicians and discographic agents. However, he appears to have never recorded again.

Harris was never a well-known soloist, and is better known for his compositions, which include "Ornithology" (a signature Charlie Parker tune), "Crazeology", "Reets and I" (a Bud Powell favorite), and "Wahoo".

Birth and Death Data: Born April 23rd, 1919 (New York City), Died May 11th, 1975 (San Francisco)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1941 - 1951

Roles Represented in DAHR: trumpet

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-063328 10-in. 4/3/1941 Up jumped the devil Earl Hines Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BS-063329 10-in. 4/3/1941 Sally won't you come back Earl Hines Orchestra ; Madeline Green ; Three Varieties Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo and male vocal trio instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BS-063330 10-in. 4/3/1941 Jersey bounce Earl Hines Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BS-063331 10-in. 4/3/1941 Julia Earl Hines Orchestra ; Billy Eckstine Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BS-063332 10-in. 4/3/1941 Southside Earl Hines Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 81483 10/19/1951 (It's a) Sin Coleman Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 81484 10/19/1951 And so to sleep again Coleman Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Harris, Benny," accessed September 22, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/320137.

Harris, Benny. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/320137.

"Harris, Benny." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 22 September 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/320137

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