Gene Harris, a jazz pianist who plied a polished, mainstream and agreeably bright brand of blues, soul and bebop, died on Sunday at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was 66.
The cause was complications from kidney failure a month before he was expecting a kidney transplant from one of his daughters, The Associated Press said.
Born in Benton Harbor, Mich., Mr. Harris taught himself piano at age 9. His primary influences were boogie-woogie players like Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson. Later, when his playing became more mature, he absorbed the refined style of Oscar Peterson. After joining the Army in 1951 he played in the 82nd Airborne Division band, and after his discharge in 1954 he toured the country with various band leaders.
In 1956 Mr. Harris formed his first band, the Four Sounds, which lost a member within a year and became the Three Sounds. The band, featuring Mr. Harris, the bassist Andy Simpkins and the drummer Bill Dowdy, soon gained a following as it began playing clubs around the Washington area.
The Three Sounds made several recordings through the 1960's and 70's on the Blue Note label. Mr. Harris also played on other records with groups led by Stanley Turrentine, James Clay, Milt Jackson, Benny Carter and others.
In 1977 Mr. Harris announced his semiretirement and moved to Boise. But his career took on new life when he signed with Concord Records in the mid-80's. No fewer than 22 albums followed, the most recent being ''Alley Cats,'' a live recording from last year. His albums ranged from solo performances, to sessions with groups like the Ray Brown Trio, to big-band dates.
His earlier recordings include ''Anita O'Day and the Three Sounds'' (Verve), ''The Three Sounds'' (Blue Note) and ''Astral Signal'' (Blue Note). His album ''Tribute to Count Basie'' (Concord), featuring the Gene Harris All-Star Big Band, earned him a nomination for a Grammy Award in 1988 in the category of Best Big Band Jazz Instrumental.
He is survived by his wife, Janie; two daughters, Beth and Niki, and a son, Gene Harris Jr.
THE GENE HARRIS ALL STAR BIG BAND
Tribute to Count Basie (1988)