Saturday, February 28, 2009
Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals
Dave Harris played tenor sax in Scott's legendary late 1930s six-man Quintette. In 40 years as a highly sought horn-for-hire in New York and L.A., Harris (1913-2002) released only one record as a bandleader: DINNER MUSIC FOR A PACK OF HUNGRY CANNIBALS, a 1961 tribute to his old boss, for whom he held deep respect. Basta recently released this long out of print album on CD.
After the RSQ, Harris remained with Scott's first swing band, then compiled an impressive resume as a session player on radio and TV, and in the recording studio. In a career that extended into the 1970s, he worked with Billie Holiday, Gene Krupa, Eddie Cantor, Mickey Katz, Stan Webb, Russ Case, Bob Haggart, and countless others.
In late-life interviews, Scott claimed that his 1937-39 Quintette was his favorite band. That opinion was doubtless shared by Harris, who (unlike dozens of embittered RS sidemen) always spoke fondly of working under Scott. Such was Harris's affection that his sole outing as a leader was an album of RSQ favorites in modern high fidelity, with a sextet dubbed The Powerhouse Five. The ensemble recaptured the manic elegance and rhythmic wit of the composer. Nostalgia was the inspiration, but sharp musicianship and a celebratory gusto mark this album as a missing link in the Scott legacy.