Exploring Eddie Harris's jazz fusion brilliance: 'High Voltage' (1969)

Sometimes jazz can be pretty rockin', and Eddie Harris's "High Voltage" is a solid example.

Listen Here
Listen Here / Eddie Harris - Topic

Not to be confused with the song or 1975 and 1976 albums by AC/DC, High Voltage is an album by American jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris. It was released in 1969 on Atlantic Records. That same year, Atlantic Records released other underrated albums like The House of Blue Lights by blues and soul artist Don Covay & the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band. The album is notable for its fusion of jazz with elements of funk, soul, and rhythm and blues, which was characteristic of Harris's style during this period (in a style perhaps pioneered by musicians like Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis).

One of the standout tracks on the album is "Listen Here," which became one of Harris's signature tunes and a jazz standard (joining his other standards, such as "Freedom Jazz Dance"). The track features Harris's innovative use of the Varitone saxophone, an instrument modified to produce different tonalities, adding a distinctive sound to his music. Other tracks on High Voltage showcase Harris's versatility as a musician and composer, with a mix of original compositions and covers of popular songs of the time.

The album works both for "serious" listeners (the types who say "Music is the space between the notes, man") or casual listeners alike and is both conventionally listeranble and ever-so-slightly experimental. It received critical acclaim and helped to solidify Harris's reputation as a leading figure in jazz fusion. High Voltage is regarded as a classic album in Harris's discography and in the realm of jazz fusion, demonstrating his pioneering approach to blending genres and pushing the boundaries of traditional jazz music. Though not as rockin' as Miles Davis’s 1969 album "In a Silent Way," it still hits a lot of right notes, in a good way, and The Allmusic review calls it "Fascinating music, and a jazz radio staple in its time"

More facts about High Voltage by Eddie Harris

All compositions by Eddie Harris except "Funky Doo" (Harris, Melvin Jackson)

Eddie Harris - tenor saxophone, varitone
Jodie Christian - piano
Melvin Jackson - bass
Richard Smith (tracks 3 & 5), Billy Hart (tracks 1, 2, 4 & 6) - drums

Captured at Shelly's Manne-Hole in Hollywood, California on October 28, 1968 (tracks 3 & 5), and at The Village Gate in Greenwich Village, New York City on April 19, 1969.

Eddie Harris would maintain success after this album, too, getting additional positive reviews. For example, Allmusic says in its review of Harris's later album Is It In: "Eddie Harris makes a radical turn toward electronic R&B on this popping, enterprising LP of grooves, humorous one-off vignettes, and other eclectic pursuits. Driven by a standard drum kit and tacky-sounding electric bongos, some of Harris' most irresistible grooves...can be found here."