"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 23, 1919 (New York City), Died May 11, 1975 (San Francisco)
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1941 - 1951
Roles Represented in DAHR: trumpet
= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.
|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|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Harris, Benny," accessed January 31, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/320137.
Harris, Benny. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/320137.
"Harris, Benny." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 31 January 2023.
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