He then teamed up with Charlie Ventura and later with Chubby Jackson. Together with Flip Phillips, he became a stalwart of Benny Goodman's group in 1959. Later, Harris worked in Las Vegas, finally retiring to Florida. Although Harris' style was a swing era approach, he was one of the first trombonists to acquire the technical command of the trombone that allowed him to play in the breakneck tempos associated with bebop. Harris constantly surprised the listener with his variety of stylistic attributes.
He was fond of varying his articulations between legato and staccato and playing first simply and then more complex. His use of vibrato also differed between the terminal vibrato - used by most swing era horn players - and a straight tone as well as combinations of the two. Harris also had an irrepressible sense of humor that showed not only in his soloing but in the way he performed as well. One story tells of an effect that left his leader mystified: When he was on Woody Herman's band, Harris had a little right-angle crook of tubing made to fit between his mouthpiece and his trombone.
One night on his way to the front mike to take a solo, Bill surreptitiously slipped the crook onto his horn. This allowed him to play with his horn at right angles to its normal position. When Bill finished his solo he put the crook back into his pocket. Woody had been standing behind Bill where he couldn't see the gimmick, and he couldn't figure out how Bill managed to play with his slide pumping sideways. Bill told section mate Eddie Bert that he wanted to have these crooks made for the whole trombone section.
"Then we could spell out dirty words with the slides while we play." (Crow, 167) It is very difficult to typify Harris' style. Harris would play each solo differently, depending on the piece and his mood. His solos varied from romantic to flamboyant. #2 Willie "Bill" Harris (April 14, 1925 - December 6, 1988) was an American rhythm and blues and jazz guitarist. Born in Nashville, North Carolina, Harris from studying classical guitar at the Columbia School of Music in Washington, D.C. went on to play guitar in The Clovers from 1950 to 1958, his blues and jazz inflected playing would become an integral part of their sound. He then made several Swing recordings and started a jazz club in 1975, which was auctioned off for nonpayment of taxes in 1981.
Thereafter Harris gave concerts of classical, flamenco, jazz and blues, enduring financial hardship the remainder of his life. Harris was also a composer. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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