Barry Harris Plays Slow Blues

| Updated on April 7, 2021

cover photo: Barry Harris, NYC 1985 by Beuford Smith

I have found this transcription I’ve made years ago in my music notebook’s sketches. I always wanted to come back and check it again. So finally I did.

This is one of a few recorded examples of the great pianist Barry Harris playing slow blues (at least to my knowledge). This is a tune called Blue Sonny from alto saxophonist Sonny Red album Images recorded in New York in December 1961. It is a slow blues in the key of Bb with no real melody for the Head and it is the longest track on that record date – about 8 minutes long (well, it’s a slow blues :).

Sonny Red - Images
Sonny Red – Images
Sonny-Red-Red-Blue-Green
Sonny Red Red Blue & Green
Sonny Red - The Mode
Sonny Red – The Mode

Here is the link to a full album: Sonny Red with Blue Mitchell and Grant Green “Images”

Barry Harris Solo on Blue Sonny

Barry Harris enters playing right after the introductory chorus of drums and bass. He plays a chorus in front of other instruments. The second chorus of his solo is in double-time and it is just before the final chorus of alto saxophonist Sonny Red.

I have edited the audio of “Blue Sonny” – leaving only piano solos by Barry Harris and connecting them into one make it one solo for the sake of continuity.

Here is the video of me playing the transcribed solo along with the original recording of Barry Harris playing.
It is quite challenging to play with good phrasing at a such slow tempo. I am pretty sure one can make it more accurately. I just tried to convey the feel and flow of the music.

‣ A full PDF chart with detailed piano transcription and Soundslice link (in the right key) including the original audio synced with a live notation and options for looping and tempo variations for practicing:

I hope you will enjoy this one of the very few examples of Barry Harris playing slow blues.

Alto saxophonist Sonny Red (real name Sylvester Kyner Jr.) was a very special player. He was much very influenced by Charlie Parker but he had his own lyrical, bluesy sound and a way of playing. There is a great website dedicated to him with many pictures, posters, discography, private recordings, quotes of his fellow musicians: Sonnyredmusic.com

Barry Harris with Sonny Red

Alec is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and educator from Tel Aviv. He loves playing, writing, teaching and learning music. Alec has built his website and he loves sharing his knowledge, experience and musical ideas and content.

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