Bill Harris (musician)

Bill Harris (October 28, 1916 August 21, 1973) was a jazz trombonist.[1]

Bill Harris
Bill Harris, 1947, Photo: William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth nameWillard Palmer Harris
Born(1916-10-28)October 28, 1916
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 21, 1973(1973-08-21) (aged 56)
Hallandale, Florida
Years active1938–1960s
LabelsMercury, EmArcy, Norgran, Dial, Capitol, Verve, Fantasy, Mode
Associated actsWoody Herman


Early in his career, Harris performed with Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, and Eddie Condon. He is remembered for his broad, thick tone and quick vibrato that remained for the duration of each tone. He joined Woody Herman's First Herd in 1944. He was also in the Four Brothers Second Herd during the late 1940s, and he worked with Herman again in the 1950s. He then teamed up with Charlie Ventura and later with Chubby Jackson. Together with Flip Phillips, he became a stalwart of Benny Goodman's group in 1959, although it has been said that Goodman was frequently irritated at Harris because of Harris' indifferent approach to "sight-reading," the skill of playing previously unseen written music with fluency, an ability which Goodman and trumpeter Harry James bost possessed. As an improviser, Harris seemed comfortable playing among divergent stylists, as shown on "Jazz at the Philharmonic" recordings, as his "one-off" style seemed to work in any context, from Dixieland, to swing, or bebop.

His solo on "Bijou" with Herman remains a classic, while his idiosyncratic treatment of the ballad "Everything Happens to Me" is noted for its vocality, and his treatment of the ballad "Everywhere" was inspiration for Roswell Rudd's free-contrapuntal "Everywhere." Later, Harris worked in Las Vegas, finally retiring to Florida.


  • Jack Teagarden, Benny Morton, Bill Harris, Vic Dickenson, Claude Jones: Trombone Time (Mercury, 1950)
  • Bill Harris Collates (Clef Records,1953)

With Benny Carter

With Woody Herman

With Charlie Parker

With Billy Ver Planck

  • Jazz for Playgirls (Savoy 1957)

With Ben Webster

  • Bill Harris and Friends (Fantasy 1957)


  1. John Shepherd (8 July 2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: VolumeII: Performance and Production. A&C Black. pp. 463–. ISBN 978-0-8264-6322-7.
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