An old acquaintance of Umbria Jazz, Allan Harris has been one of the most frequent artists at the festival in recent years. Now he returns to Umbria Jazz in the wake of his last album, dedicated to The Genius of Eddie Jefferson, one of the inventors of “vocalese”. Jefferson, who died dramatically 40 years ago, composed, improvised and sang lyrics for the great jazz instrumental solos, adapting his lyrics to the classics of Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Miles Davis. Vocalese is a niche genre, due also to the difficulties involved. Harris does not simply perform a nostalgic operation but injects new life-blood into a vocal style that is part of the history of jazz.
Harris became a star after winning the Downbeat critics’ referendum in the “Rising Star Jazz Vocalist” category. In America this title is the official consecration of a star, but the audience of Umbria Jazz got there first. Here Harris is well known for having performed many times at both the winter editions in Orvieto and the summer ones in Perugia. A singer and guitarist, this Brooklyn artist represents the quintessence of jazz vocality. His world is that of the crooners, a genre that today is not very prolific, at least at these levels. Harris’ style is low-key, never over the top, always elegant. In a word, classic.