Stan Harrison Hailed as "Devilishly Inventive Tenor"


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Stan Harrison
JazzTimes Raves: “A Devilishly Inventive Tenor;" “Not What You Might Expect;" “Heavenlike"

“Somewhere in Between Jazz and Hard-Edged Pop"

Harrison Soon to be Featured on Cover of Saxophone Journal Magazine

Rock/jazz saxophonist Stan Harrison steps out of the shadows and into the national spotlight with his acclaimed CD, 'The Optimist'. In their March issue, JAZZTIMES Magazine praised Harrison as “a devilishly inventive tenor..." “Not what you might expect..." Critics have embraced the CD in recent months, and additional national coverage is in the works, as SAXOPHONE JOURNAL Magazine confirms plans to feature Harrison on the cover of an upcoming issue, with an interview feature.

Harrison has performed with and/or appeared on albums by some of music's most respected bands/singers (including David Bowie, Talking Heads, Radiohead, Duran Duran, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, They Might Be Giants, and many more...) But it's with 'The Optimist' that he's found his own distinctive 'voice'.

The ten original songs on 'The Optimist' showcase Harrison's sax, as well as the vocal talents of legendary artists, including Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind & Fire,) Phoebe Snow, Andy Vargas (Santana,) Najma Akhtar, and more. Harrison's long-time colleague Gerard McMann produced the CD, which features a hybrid of jazz, classical, pop and World musics. In a terrific CD review and interview, California's N2Entertainment praised the music as “dazzling and upbeat."

STAN HARRISON - The Optimist

Radiohead, They Might Be Giants, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Serge Gainsbourg and Talking Heads: All have called on saxophonist Stan Harrison, a devilishly inventive tenor who stood among Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes for a few years and was a founding member of the Borneo Horns. Harrison's second solo album takes its musical cues from its title with its sunny countenance--especially with its world-music leanings. But, at the same time, beefy playing and counterintuitive musical asides belie the heavenlike atmosphere. Not what you might expect. That being said, thick and contemporary beats on tracks such as “On a Never Ending Day" and “Nothing Less Than You" anchor the music in the present and suggest Harrison is most happy lodged somewhere in between jazz and hard-edged pop. Harrison invited several singers into the mix, with excellent results. Phoebe Snow casts a spell on “Would I Ever Know?," a statement of love lost suggesting the “Poetry Man" might've left the scene. British singer Najma Akhtar switches between English and Urdu on the title track, but it's Earth, Wind and Fire's Philip Bailey who steals the show with “What About Peace of Mind?" His wordless, falsetto vocals soar into space in Metheny-esque fashion in a song that effectively blends bossa, chill, R&B and jazz into something like magic. JAZZTIMES MAGAZINE, MARCH 2008 - By Brian Soergel

N2Entertainment By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs 1/29/08

STAN HARRISON IS “THE OPTIMIST" (***1/2 out of four stars)

You've probably heard Stan Harrison's sweet, saxophone many times before and didn't even realize it was him. The accomplished rock/jazz musician has lent his talents to some of the biggest artists and groups in the world like Duran, Duran, Talking Heads, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Radiohead and David Bowie among others.

Now, Harrison has stepped into the forefront with his bouncy and infectious debut CD, “The Optimist." The disc, produced by Gerard McMann, features 10 dazzling and upbeat songs, eight of which were written by Harrison.

Stand out tracks include: “What about Peace of Mind?" featuring Philip Bailey and Phoebe Snow on “Would I Ever Know?"

Equally worthy of several replays is the opening cut, “Breath after Breath," the title track, and the whimsical, “Nothing Less than You."

Although he cites John Coltrane as one of his biggest musical influences, it's apparent after listening to Harrison's sophisticated harmonies; his music embodies worldwide rhythms and beats.

With “The Optimist," Harrison shows he has arrived as a bona fide, solo, sax man. Smooth jazz just got a lot smoother.

FEATURING: STAN HARRISON by Lana K. Wilson-Combs N2Entertainment

After performing and recording with a long list of musicians such as Duran Duran, Nile Rodgers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, They Might Be Giants, Radiohead and David Bowie, rock/jazz saxophonist Stan Harrison believed it was time to step out on his own.

The Philadelphia born and New Jersey raised musician has released his debut CD, “The Optimist" which is in stores now. The album's 10 original songs not only showcase Harrison's dynamic sax playing but also the fine vocals of Philip Bailey (Earth Wind & Fire), Phoebe Snow and Andy Vargas (Santana) among others.

N2Entertainment.net talked with Harrison by phone from his home in New York. The 54- year-old musician discussed going solo, his musical style, songwriting, and his biggest musical influence, John Coltrane, why he loves The White Stripes and what music has been blowing up his iPod. Here's what Harrison told us.

Q. How long were you a sessions jazz player?
A. I've been performing and recording with other artists for about 20 years now.

Q. What are some of the songs you've contributed to?
A. There's Duran Duran's “Notorious," Stevie Ray Vaughan's “Stang's, Swang" and Radiohead's “Kid-A" album and the track," The National Anthem. Last year I worked with They Might be Giants' on their “Else" CD.

Q. Were you nervous about stepping from the shadows and into the spotlight and releasing this CD?
A. Not too much. There was always this drive inside of me to do this. This is the first album I've done with some muscle behind it. When you're responsible for the whole ball of wax, the creative process moves a bit differently.

Q. Did people that you worked with encourage or discourage you to branch out on your own?
A. I got a lot of really good encouragement and many of the people I worked with were just as excited that I had taken the next step. But the album really came from me. There was no pressure or anything.

Q. How long did “The Optimist" take you to complete?
A. The writing aspect took me about a year. My long-time colleague and producer Gerard McMann approached me to write it. He was able to weed out some of the songs because I had about 50 of them written. So total, we completed the CD in a year and a half.

Q. Does the title of the CD describe you?
A. Yes, I guess so. I consider myself to be an optimist but not so much one wearing rose colored glasses all the time. I'm optimistic when it comes to approaching adversity. As long as I am somewhat positive about things that's good enough I think.

Q. How would you describe “The Optimist?"
A. I'm not sure what category to really put it in. The CD has vocals, instrumentals, strings, drums, etc. It doesn't fit the cookie cutter definition that most radio stations would probably lump it into?

Q. Is that a good or bad thing?
A. It depends. Radio has changed a lot. The idea of coming out with something new used to be so encouraged. Now all of a sudden that's not the case. But I'm hoping that since many musicians are going the independent route, it will spawn so much creativity that radio can't help but embrace what they bring.

Q. Has songwriting always come easy for you?
A. Sometimes it seems to fall from the sky for me and other times it's as hard as rocks.

Q. Who is your biggest musical influence?
A. Cannonball Adderley was big for me but John Coltrane was perhaps my biggest musical influence. The first record I heard was “My Favorite Things." When you're listening to Coltrane, you're aware that you're listening to something that's otherworldly and inspiring. I have more records of Coltrane in my collection than any other musician.

Q. Is it true you are a huge fan of The White Stripes too?
A. Yep. I became a fan after I bought “Elephant." I listened to it for 10 seconds and was hooked.

Q. Who have you been listening to lately in your iPod?
A. The White Stripes and a new Los Angeles band called Kneebody, Radiohead's “In Rainbows" and some chamber music from a wonderful Chinese American composer named Huang Ruo. I listen to them all the time.

Q.What's next for you?
A. I just finished touring with They Might be Giants in November. But I'm going to be putting together some more dates soon and look forward to tooting my horn in several more cities.

This story appears courtesy of Seth Cohen PR.
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