Eyewitness: Toni Harper - JazzWax

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January 31, 2011


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Thanks for posting this follow-up! I bought the album Toni after reading the first post and have been enjoying the album immensely.

Ed Leimbacher

In the used records store I ran back in the Nineties, I had a Toni Harper album up on the display rack for many months with no takers; and I know it was her sole LP on the short-lived orange Verve label (meaning more Pop than Jazz) and I think the jacket cover said Toni Harper Sings--something more than plain Toni anyway--and seems to me that the photo was different too. Can anyone please settle this confusion of info and memory? Was her album issued with different covers?

Also, Marc, I note that there is a DVD of Cannonball and Nat Adderley Sextet playing live in 1962-63 in various locations (have not seen it), that lists a Toni Harper as part of the group. If it's the same Toni, seems odd she didn't mention touring with the Adderleys. Maybe worth another email?

Michael Steinman

Marc, it is customary in Blogville to applaud the artist -- so if Toni Harper reads this, I bow low in admiration of her loving candor and self-awareness. Even if she had sold snowcones for a living and never sang a note, her words are wonderful, evidence of the fully formed human being at the microphone and the keyboard: and her generosity in revealing herself is something special. But the people in Blogville who sometimes get taken for granted are the people who ask the questions that result in such honest outpourings of feelings and fact. If there had been no Marc Myers and no JazzWax, we all would be much poorer. From a fellow resident of Blogville, admiringly!


On her website Toni mentions touring Japan with Adderley in 1963.
An interesting rarity is two cuts recorded with Red Mitchell's group for a tv show in 1957. As far as I know they were only issued on an ancient LP.

A.R. Hakeem

They are on the Sessions, live! lp on Calliope Records out of Sherman Oaks,Cal. from 1976. This was an audio series of the live t.v. sessions dates from the 1950's L.A. t.v. show called Stars of Jazz. A remarkably gifted 17 year old Toni Harper recorded two brilliant versions of "Them There Eyes" which rivals Billie Holiday's, and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" which was actually bewildering!

A.R. Hakeem

The video of Toni on the Japanese tour with Cannonball is presently on youtube.


The 'Stars of Jazz' 1957 tracks are issued on cd by Freshsound records, also included are a couple of singles and some material with Gillespie...Miss Harper uploaded the video of her and the Adderley Sextet on youtube...only one song, with rhythm section only...Cool stuff!


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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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