Musician Theodore Harris dies at 70

Aug. 17, 2005 at 1:32 PM

DETROIT, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Theodore Harris Jr., a pianist and saxophonist whose work ranged from Motown to bebop, died of prostate cancer in a Detroit hospital at the age of 70.

Harris worked with Motown greats such as Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, the Temptations and the Supremes. He was one of the greats in the Detroit jazz scene, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In a 1993 interview, Harris said his musical course was set at the age of 7 when he first heard Duke Ellington.

"That's my life," Harris said at the time. "That's all I ever wanted to be."

Harris also was an arranger, bandleader, composer, conductor instrumentalist and educator.

His most lasting contribution may be the New Breed Bebop Society Orchestra he formed in 1983 for "kids coming home every day with their instruments and no place to play them after they leave school."

The upcoming Detroit International Jazz Festival during the Labor Day weekend will be dedicated to Harris, who died Monday at a Detroit veterans' hospital.

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