Ratzo Harris

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Dec 5, 2000.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Does anybody know anything about Ratzo Harris of the Kenny Werner trio? I love the trio for its quirky "stream of unconsciousness" style, and also for some of the arrangements....As far as Harris' playing, I often don't know what to make of his solos (other than the fact that they usually crack me up, or at least make me smile), but some of his grooves with the trio are very solid and loose at the same time, and in general a lot of fun. Who else does he play with?
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    He played with Jane Ira Bloom for a while. He's on "Modern Drama" (orginally on CBS, reissued on Koch). Guess who's on drums: Tom Rainey! Kenny Werner is not on this CD (Fred Hersch is) but he IS on Jane's "Art and Aviation" but not Ratzo or Rainey.

    Jane's stuff is highly recommended, especially if you like quirky tunes ala Monk.

    Ratzo also is writing a column for Bss Player.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks guys, that was quick! Brian, funny you should mention Tom Rainey & Fred Hersch...Fred's Trio w/Rainey and Drew Gress is one of my all time favorites, and I'm also a fan of Kenny's trio. Hmmm, maybe I just like Tom Rainey's playing? (I do, very much). Rainey was the subject of a rather heated discussion I accidentally got into with ***** ********* and **** ******** (two local heavy jazz educators)....Fred's trio was playing a concert here in town, and **** & ***** were there, complaining about how Rainey's playing was ruining the evening for them, & how they would never want him in their band. Before I realized what I was saying, a remark along the lines of "well, I'm sure the feeling would be mutual" slipped out, and things went downhill from there, as you might imagine....(open mouth, insert foot and most of calf, chew like hell...)Anyway, I'll check out that record for sure, thanks.

    While I can't say that those two trios really remind me of each other in any stylistic way, or that Harris and Gress are similar players at all, I really dig the looseness of the grooves in both groups. The one thing that they do have in common is their ability to make barlines disappear and reappear at will. If you ever want a real rhythmic kick in the butt, listen to the tune "Herbie Nichols" on Kenny's "Introducing the Trio" album, and try to count out the section right before the melody returns (one chorus of very tripped out long-meter rhythm changes). It works out, but if you let your attention drift for even a second, you're sunk.

    Ed - good stories. I gotta ask, though, about all of these guitar players you "used to work with"....not to pry, but who fired who? ;)
  4. sonic bass

    sonic bass

    Jul 12, 2004
    I spoke with him once, and saw him perform. He was amazing!

    He uses a 6 string double bass, I don't remember who made it but it think it was made on New York or New Jersey.

    He has more than 30 years of experience, started his musical education on 1964.

    Studied with Jerry Hahn, Bill Matthews, Michael Burr, Juni Booth, Harold Seletsky, Bob Soder, Bob Brookmeyer.

    He has written stuff for Bass Player Magazine.

    His compositions had been used for dancing, tv, movies.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So - Tom Rainey's controversial.....:meh:

    My favourite gig at my local Jazz club this year (June 11) was the Julian Arguelles trio - so Julian is a British Sax player/composer, who is very highly regarded over here...but the trio was completed by Michael Formanek and Tom Rainey!

    I really loved their playing as a rhythm section and their interaction was truly amazing - I really felt privileged to be sitting only a few feet away at what was a great gig and I think was the last on their British tour?

    Here's a review from the London gig, the night before:

    But I just wanted to say, I loved his drumming and it added huge interest to the gig - and together with Michael Formanek, for me, they showed how you can get infinite variety out of just DB and drums, with no chordal instruments - it was virtually all original compositions, but it didn't seem to matter what they were playing - it was the interaction, that held your attention and made you wonder what they were going to do next! ;)
  6. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Ratzo Harris also did a couple of albums and a bunch of gigs in NY with Mose Allison. He's a great player and when I saw him I couldn't believe he was stopping the strings with his jaw while he played double and triple stops on the higher strings. Isn't he from Indiana and wasn't he a teacher at Ball State or another school out there? I believe the Mose albums he played on are "Gimricks and Gewgaws" and the one that has "The Earth Wants You". Can't remember if that is also the name of the album or just a cut from it.
  7. bass_means_LOW


    Apr 12, 2004
    Las Vegas
    Don't know if he spent time in the San Francisco Bay Area or grew up there. At one time or another, both Bruce Forman and Joe Henderson mentioned that Ratso had played with them in that zone.
  8. subclef


    Sep 18, 2004
    ...that was in around 70/71...he was called Ratzo then...don't recall why...I remember him being very animated when he played...he definately found his calling...we were in a music class together at Abraham Lincoln High in San Francisco...I don't know if he was a native...I last saw him in '76 or '77 at the Reunion club on Union street in SF...he introduced me to Art Pepper,who he may have been playing with at the time...where does he live now???...is he playing with anyone???...just curious...
  9. yeah, mr. harris is attending rutgers newark -going for his masters in jazz historiography, i think.nice enough fellow. i seen him play recently at the faculty performance on campus. besides ratzo, i think i am the only bass player on campus! (don't forget, we also have the institute of jazz studies in our library- the BEST jazz archive center in the WORLD! owwwwwwwww!
  10. bassdogEmer


    Sep 14, 2005
    San Francisco
    Endorsing Artist: Mesa Boogie Amps, Bag end,Thomastik - Infeld Strings
    Hey Chris, I recently bumped into Ratzo at Bill Merchant's bass shop in the city and I got to play Ratzo's bass...MAN! you would believe it. It's 6 strings and the finger board is wide as a football field yet the strings are still close together...guess thats what happens when fit 6 strings where there would normally be four. But anyways, the bass sounds really nice and he is the only cat I have ever seen play a 6 string bass like that.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    He was working a show and fell by my gig last Saturday night. We had a chance to talk and he sat in for a couple of tunes. A surprisingly nice cat; I hope to be able to do an interview with him for talkbass....
  12. philip sirois

    philip sirois

    May 29, 2006
    I've seen tom rainey play in town here a number of times, and although I guess his playing is not exactly conventional in many ways, especialy in the context I've seen him, his ability to groove in such a loose way is very impressive. He's a great drummer.
    Chris, I think your posse deserved your little remark.

    Ed, is Tom related to the other gaggle of raineys around town,?
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Naw, different spelling.
  14. A month or so ago, Ratzo came though on tour with the Roberta Piket Trio (Roberta on piano, Billy Mintz (sp?) on drums). They gave a concert and workshop at a local arts institute. I couldn't make the concert but I went to the workshop the next day and was greatly inpressed. Ratzo was playing an 6 string EUB strung with Flexocor's, which he said give a little more "wood" to the sound. He had great facility - you got the feeling he could play just about anything that came to mind. We also got a demonstration of his "chin" playing, which was pretty interesting.

    I got to talk to him a bit as they were packing up and he seemed like a really nice guy. He said that he bought his DB ("my pedigree" as he called it) as a 4 string and had Bill Merchant convert it first to a 5. He said it sounded good, but not great. Then he had Merchant convert it to a 6 string, and he said the sound was much better.......

    I look forward to reading Ed's Ratzo interview, if it happens.
  15. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    I've never met Ratzo, but I used to play with a guitarist who would call me when Ratzo wasn't available for his gig. The guitarist would love to tell me on breaks of how amazing a bassist Ratzo was and how much he loved his playing. He never did say that about me however...
  16. That's probably because he only talked about you to Ratzo. "Man, that MM5 is really a great player......"