Groovin' Hard - Live at The Penthouse 1964-1977 (2016)

Hefti, Brianin, Haire, Mandel, Lehar, Brown, Thielemans, North

Gene Harris

In May of 2010, George Klabin and I were embarking upon the adventure of unearthing and presenting historical jazz recordings to the world. We began looking into various archives for tapes to release. One day, George came to me with a list of tapes he’d come across; tapes in the possession of Jim Wilke, who years earlier had been the host of a syndicated Seattle-based radio program called Jazz After Hours. 
Over the course of Jim’s storied career, he’s been a staunch advocate for jazz and its greatest protagonists. Indeed, over the years, Jim has succeeded in presenting a veritable Who’s Who of ’50s and ’60s jazz greats to the public. 
From February 1962 through August 1968, Jim hosted the weekly radio program, Jazz from the Penthouse, on Seattle’s KING-FM. As a well-known radio personality in the Northwest, Jim developed a working relationship with Seattle’s legendary jazz club, the Penthouse, and consequently was able to air live performances by a wide array of artists while they performed at the club. These performances were broadcast direct to the public right as they happened. The shows not only went on the air live, Jim taped them, employing professional recording techniques and equipment. Over the years, Jim amassed an impressive collection of high-quality tapes; tapes that form a unique archive of the extraordinary music heard over the course of more than half a decade at the Penthouse by virtually all of the amazing music legends that played there. 

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Gene Harris

The Three Sounds, led by pianist Gene Harris, was one of the preeminent soul and jazz piano trios from the mid-'50s through the 1960s. In its heyday, The Three Sounds was one of the top-selling jazz acts in the world with a string of hit records on Blue Note Records between 1958 and 1962; indeed, during that period, no other Blue Note act sold as many records as The Three Sounds. After they left Blue Note, The Three Sounds also made a number of acclaimed, top-selling albums for Verve, Mercury, Limelight and other labels. 

In addition to The Three Sounds' own immensely successful albums recorded over the course of their 15 years together, Harris and his mates also collaborated on recordings with many of the foremost figures in jazz of the era such as Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine, Johnny Griffin, Anita O'Day, Lou Donaldson and others. The Three Sounds collective recorded catalogue occupies an important place in the history of recorded jazz. 

As a jazz pianist, Gene Harris was not only popular with fans, he was an important influence on a generation of pianists who followed him, such as Monty Alexander, Benny Green and many others. He had monumental technique, but that technique was always put in the service of deep feeling and groove. Monty Alexander notes, "His touch on the piano was crystal clear, immediately bringing up the feeling of blues as well as that cross between church and blues. He was greasy! He brought up soulful emotions." Harris's ever-present groove explains why the Three Sounds have remained relevant into the hip-hop era; a sample of their "Put On Train" was prominently featured in the Beastie Boys song, "What Comes Around" from their album, Paul's Boutique.

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Groovin' Hard - Live at The Penthouse 1964-1977 (2016)

Hefti, Brianin, Haire, Mandel, Lehar, Brown, Thielemans, North

Gene Harris

    Audiophile Audition

"It may come as a surprise to hardcore Blue Note Records fans that The Three Sounds were the best selling artists from the venerable label during the 1958-1962 period that they recorded for Blue Note. Their bluesy soul jazz piano trio recordings were addictive to the public. They recorded seventeen sessions for Blue Note at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio, and backed both Stanley Turrentine and Lou Donaldson, two soul jazz legends. Their music was mainstream jazz with strong blues and gospel influences. It was the blues piano voicings of leader Gene Harris that made the Three Sounds special. Resonance Records has again stepped up in their efforts of issuing significant previously unknown live jazz from well recorded sources. The Penthouse club in Seattle opened in 1962 and was active for seven years. Jim Wilke, a local jazz expert from KING-FM recorded many live Penthouse shows and has assisted Resonance Records honchos, George Klabin and Zev Feldman by providing the tapes from the Three Sounds sets at the club. Gene Harris and bassist Andy Simpkins were on board from the 1964-1968 time period. Original drummer Bill Dowdy held down the drum chair until 1966, and he appears here on four of the ten tracks. The other six tunes are split evenly between drummers Kalil Madi and Carl Burnett. Jazz standards were chosen for this release. They range from Neil Hefti’s “Girl Talk” and Johnny Mandel’s sublime “The Shadow of Your Smile,” Ray Brown’s “A.M. Blues” to band originals “Blue Genes,” “Rat Down Front” and “The Boogaloo.” What they all share in common is a heavy groove, catchy riffs, and Gene Harris’ soulful piano. Listening to this group’s live recordings fifty years later is a real treat."

Jeff Krow of Audiophile Audition[read full review]

    All About Jazz

"The old tapes hide in the archives, deep in the dark corners of record company closets, and even the occasional back yard tool shed — Hal Schaefer's How Do You Like this Piano Playing (Summit Records, 2009). Finding and bringing these lost treasures to the listening public seems to have turned into an industry of its own. And praise be the effort. The year 2016 saw the release of newly discovered gems including pianist Bill Evans with Some Other Time. Now Resonance Records, riding the crest of the wave of the undiscovered treasures game, offers up Groovin' Hard: Live At the Penthouse, 1964-1968 by The Three Sounds featuring Gene Harris. Harris held down the piano chair during the fifteen year life span of the group. Drummers changed; the bass changed. Gene Harris was the constant in a group that released fifteen albums on Blue Note Records, achieving the distinction of being one of the label's top selling acts between 1958 and 1962. The group's sound was soulful, always in the groove. Groovin' Hard stacks up well with the best of The Three Sounds discography — consistency was a big thing with Harris. Consistency and the joy of creation. He sounds like a born entertainer, someone who lived to give the people what they wanted to hear. In this set, recorded in four different stints at Seattle's now-defunct Penthouse, the group grooves into Neal Hefti's "Girl Talk," the classic "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes," given a bossa-funk feel here, and the American Songbook jewel "The Shadow of Your Smile." Harris had such chops, and such a flair for bringing deep soul into the proceedings, such panache, such exuberant confidence in his artistry. And the trios certainly matched Harris in their zest creating an assertive interplay and an engaging sound. "Blue Genes," a Harris original, boogie woogie's like mad, and "Rat's Down Front," another offering from the Harris pen, ramps that approach up a couple of notches, while "Yours Is My Heat Alone" dances with a light step, with the trio at his most effervescent. Another fine discovery. Kudos to Resonance Records for bringing it into the light."

Dan McClenaghan of All About Jazz[read full review]

Groovin' Hard - Live at The Penthouse 1964-1977 (2016)

Hefti, Brianin, Haire, Mandel, Lehar, Brown, Thielemans, North

Gene Harris

Digital Converters: Merging Technologies Horus and HAPI with a dCS Vivaldi Clock
Editing Software: Pyramix
Mastering Engineer: René Laflamme, 2xHD - Transfer from Analog Master Tape to DSD
Mixing and Sound Restoration: George Klabin
Producer: Jim Wilke
Recording Engineer: Jim Wilke
Recording location: The Penthouse, Seattle, Washington, 1964-1968
Recording Type & Bit Rate: Analog to DSD128

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2XHD1056: Groovin' Hard - Live at The Penthouse 1964-1977
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Tracks.
1.
Girl Talk
Hefti
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2.
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
Brianin
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3.
Blue Genes
Haire
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4.
The Shadow Of Your Smile
Mandel
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Rat Down Front
Haire
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6.
Yours Is My Heart Alone
Lehar
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AM Blues
Brown
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Bluesette
Thielemans
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Caesar & Cleopatra
North
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10.
The Boogaloo
Haire
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