This two-fer pairs two pivotal and seemingly conflicting recordings in the career of Gene Harris as he entered the 1970s, a period that was to see his trademark rootsy sound embrace the emergent jazz-funk.
Gene Harris never veered closer to mainstream jazz-funk than Tone Tantrum – a slick, propulsive record recalling Donald Byrd's classic sessions with the Mizell brothers (not surprising, given that Byrd turns up on a few tracks here). It's very much a product of its time, channeling influences from underground disco to Stevie Wonder, and remains arguably the most blatantly commercial release in the entire Blue Note catalog.
The Gene Harris Quartet was quite consistent in its many Concord recordings of the 1990s. The group on this disc (pianist Harris, guitarist Ron Eschete, bassist Luther Hughes, and drummer Paul Humphrey) performs soulful and bluesy versions of such songs as "I Remember You", "The Brotherhood of Man", Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder", and even "September Song". All of Harris' records from this era are easily recommended to fans of soul-jazz, soulful hard bop, and blues-oriented jazz.
A masterpiece from Gene Harris an album that’s probably been his biggest influence on the sound of soul in the 21st Century, and for good reason too! The set moves way beyond both Harris’ acoustic piano roots in the Three Sounds, and his other electric sides of the 70s into sublime spacey territory that’s wrapped up in soul – as much a pinnacle of his musical vision as early 70s records were for Herbie Hancock or George Duke! The vibe here is a bit between the looser styles of Duke’s MPS recordings, and the tighter grooves of the Mizell generation and arrangements are by Harris, Harvey Mason, and Jerry Peters, the latter of whom really adds some great elements to the record.
Although there are few actual blues on Black and Blue, pianist Gene Harris gives all of the songs (whether complex standards, ballads or near-blues) a bluesy feel, adding soul and a church feeling to each of the melodies. With the assistance of guitarist Ron Eschete, bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Harold Jones, Harris is in typically fine form. ~ AllMusic