“One of the finer composer/guitarists in modern jazz” --Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A master composer/guitarist” --San Francisco Chronicle
A wildly diverse improviser/composer/arranger with a penchant for unorthodox instrumental combinations, guitarist Joel Harrison has sustained one of the most unpredictable discographies of the last decade with his chimerical mix of jazz, blues, chamber music, African and Indian folk music, Appalachian tunes and old school country songs. On URBAN MYTHS, Joel puts his focus on the electric jazz that influenced him growing up in the 1970's. By virtue of Harrison's singular writing and a phenomenal performance by seasoned veterans, URBAN MYTHS is a major achievement and one of the most interesting records of the year, regardless of genre.
“The common denominator in Harrison's diverse projects is this: quality and maturity. The name “Joel Harrison” is then enough to point the audience to something truly worth hearing.” --Jazzthetik (Germany)
About Joel Harrison
Guitarist, composer, and vocalist Joel Harrison resists categorization: his music is informed by western and non-western traditions, notated and improvised music. He is equally at home writing songs and complex chamber music, playing modern jazz and bar blues. He has released ten cds of his own compositions and arrangements on six different record labels since 1995. Acclaimed NYC critic Bill Milkowski called his latest release, The Wheel, “ a staggering work of indescribable beauty.”
Harrison graduated from Bard College with a bachelor’s degree in composition in 1980, studying with Joan Tower. He went on to study privately with numerous composers and performers, including Ali Akbar Khan, William Mathieu, Charlie Banacos, and Mick Goodrick, and has himself taught music to adults and children for many years. While living in the San Francisco area in the 1990’s Harrison organized tribute concerts to a number of great jazz artists including Jim Pepper and Jimmy Guiffre and released three cd’s of his own compositions.
Since moving to New York City in 1999, his projects have included: Free Country (radical renditions of old country and Appalachian music); Harrison on Harrison (re-composed improvisations of the music of George Harrison), String Choir (string quartet and two guitars play music of Paul Motian). In 2007 he released a new cd for Highnote Records entitled Harbor with renowned guitarist Nguyen Le. Harrison’s latest projects were released on Intuition Records in May 2008: “The Wheel”, an extended suite for String quartet and jazz quartet plus guitar, and Passing Train, a collection of original songs. A new Highnote cd, Urban Myths, is scheduled for a Spring 2009 release.
Harrison is best known for his composing and arranging skills. He has twice been selected as the winner of the Jazz Composer’s Alliance Julius Hemphill Composition Competition, and has been the recipient of commissions from Chamber Music America; Meet the Composer, the Cary Trust, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, and others. Harrison’s solo for marimba recently took first prize in the Percussive Arts Society’s worldwide competition. Other recent chamber works include a commission for fl.,vc.,pn. and,perc. and a twenty minute solo for cello written for Wendy Sutter. Harrison is a four- time MacDowell Colony fellow. His allies in his various projects have included Dave Liebman, Norah Jones, David Binney, Uri Caine, Jamey Haddad, Dan Weiss, Daniel Kelly, Dewey Redman, Uri Caine, Todd Reynolds, Christian Howes, and Caleb Burhans. He continues to tour worldwide with his various ensembles.