So the Story Goes: Barry Harris's Never-ending Master Class

Barry Harris: better late than never

News | Jun, 15th 2017

If you get a group of jazz musicians in a room together, it’s only a matter of time until they start sharing stories from the road. In this original series, “So the Story Goes,” we will highlight some of those great stories. (See other entries in this series.)

Since the 1980s, jazz piano legend and educator Barry Harris has been giving weekly master classes to students hoping to learn the vocabulary and traditions that make up jazz. Even at 87 years old, he teaches three classes every Tuesday: a piano class at 6:00PM, a vocal class at 7:30PM, and an improvisation class for all instruments that runs from 10:00PM to midnight. It wasn’t by chance, though, that the master class series has lasted as long as it has.

Clearly, he's a master educator:

In a 2002 broadcast of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz on NPR, Harris provides some insight into how one of jazz’s longest-running educational workshops came to be.

"Okay, so [The Jazz Coalition] used to have a workshop. And so what happened was, I was supposed to teach the workshop one day—it was the last workshop—and, unfortunately, I went into OTB [Off Track Betting] to play the horses.

"And so I got there [to OTB] and, I tell you, what happened was this: I was supposed to be there at four o’ clock and at seven o’ clock, I suddenly said, ‘I'm supposed to teach at four!’ So I went out and jumped in a cab... Here I go running to the place, I get there, you know, everybody was sitting there waiting on me… three hours later! So I saidand this was the last day of the class—I said, ‘Here’s what we’ll do. We’re gonna continue having this class forever.' I say, 'All you gotta do is bring enough money just to pay the rentI don’t want anythingjust everybody bring a few dollars. We’ll pay the rent. And we’ll keep the class going.’

"That’s how the class started."

Listen to the full episode and catch Barry Harris and his trio—made up of bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Leroy Williams—play 7:30 and 9:30 sets from Friday June 16th through Sunday June 18th at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

Can’t make it to the club? You can stream both sets on Sunday, June 18th right here:

read more

We sat down with saxophonist Azar Lawrence to hear what it was like playing with McCoy Tyner on some of Tyner's most acclaimed recordings and what he learned from our 2017 Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame inductee.

read more

Hamilton de Holanda, who's referred to as the "Jimi Hendrix" of the bandolim (or Brazilian mandolin), shares some of his favorite Thelonious Monk tunes in advance of his World of Monk performances with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.


Dianne Reeves's V-Day Mixtape

A hand-picked list of songs for "late-into-the-night, romantic rendezvous" courtesy five-time Grammy Award-winner Dianne Reeves. Featuring Nina Simone, Geri Allen, Al Green, and many more!

read more
Study up on jazz piano history!

Playlist: Get Ready for Handful of Keys with the Evolution of Jazz Piano!

Study up for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis's new album Handful of Keys, featuring special guests Joey Alexander, Dick Hyman, Myra Melford, and more!

read more
Listen to a playlist featuring some of John Lewis's greatest music!

Playlist: Get to Know

Enrich your listening experience of "The Music of John Lewis," the new album from the JLCO with Wynton Marsalis ft. Jon Batiste, with an excerpt from its liner notes and a playlist exploring Lewis's oeuvre!

read more
Ingrid Jensen in RECOLLECT

Crate-dig with Jimmy Cobb, Sheila Jordan & more in RECOLLECT

Our new original video series RECOLLECT takes you record shopping with some of the world's greatest jazz artists, including Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, Sheila Jordan, and many more!

read more
Chick Corea - photo by Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Chick Corea: Five Essential Albums

Chick Corea is one of the most influential figures in jazz and one of the greatest living jazz pianists. In advance of his trio’s July 4 performance in Highland Park, IL, at the Ravinia Festival alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, here are five essential albums from his discography.

read more
Wynton Marsalis performs on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Celebrating Spaces and The Abyssinian Mass with Colbert on The Late Show

Wynton Marsalis appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform with Jon Batiste, Stay Human, and acclaimed dancer Lil Buck. Check out video and behind-the-scenes content from their performance.

read more

10 Essential Jazz Albums

New to jazz and don't know where to start? With many artists and extensive catalogues of music, a new jazz listener can feel intimidated. We're here to help! Check out our list of 10 albums to get you started on your jazz journey and introduce yourself to some of jazz's great artists.

read more

A Visit to Clark Terry

On December 7, 2014 the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra drove 8 hours on an off day to play for Clark Terry on his 94th birthday. Victor Goines, James Chirillo, Ted Nash, Vincent Gardner, and Walter Blanding recall the day and the impact that Clark had on jazz.

read more


Watch Helen Sung and Isaiah J. Thompson perform Handful of Keys live!

To celebrate the latest release from Blue Engine records, two world-class jazz pianists showed off their chops live from Paste Magazine's NYC studios.

read more
Grassella Oliphant

Lessons from Our Masters: Grassella Oliphant on Keeping Jazz's Legacy Alive

Grassella Oliphant kicks off the Lessons from Our Masters series on his 88th birthday, opening our Coca-Cola Generations in Jazz Festival. Oliphant played with Ahmad Jamal in 1952, Sarah Vaughan through the late 1950s, and released acclaimed albums featuring heavyweights like Bobby Hutcherson, Clark Terry, and Grant Green. It’ll be a festive evening of music as we celebrate Oliphant’s birthday and launch our 2017 Coca-Cola Generations in Jazz Festival!

read more
Buddy Rich

So the Story Goes: Buddy Rich on Music and Magic

In the latest installment of So the Story Goes, Buddy Rich—sometimes regarded as "the world's greatest drummer"—gets rhapsodic about the power of music and recounts that one time he played for the Queen of England.

read more
Joe Temperley, by Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Notes from the Road: Remembering Joe Temperley

Before his passing in May, Joe Temperley spent 29 unforgettable years as the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra's baritone saxophonist and its beloved elder statesman. Between performances on their recent mini-tour of Canada, several JLCO members shared their memories of Temperley, who left behind an indelible legacy and a whole lot of stories.

read more

6 Underappreciated Jazz Artists You Should Check Out

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, so we thought we'd celebrate by delving into the careers of a handful of underappreciated jazz artists. Explore the careers of six musicians who deserve more accolades and learn the best places to start with their discographies.

read more