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StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Stefon Harris and Blackout's "Sonic Creed"

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This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring vibraphonist Stefon Harris, who's coming to St. Louis to perform starting next Wednesday, October 31 and continuing through Sunday, November 4 at Jazz St. Louis.

Considered one of the top mallet percussionists in jazz, Harris has played here several times in the last few years, most recently as the guest artist with Jazz St. Louis' JazzU student ensemble in June, 2016 at the Bistro.

This time, though, he's got a new album to promote, having just released Sonic Creed at the end of September. It's his first recording as a bandleader since 2009, and eighth overall (not counting the two albums of the “Ninety Miles" project that Harris co-led with trumpeter Christian Scott and saxophonist David Sánchez from 2010 to 2012). It's also Harris' debut release on the Motéma label after putting out seven records on Blue Note, which signed him to his first recording contract back in the late 1990s.



The album features Harris' band Blackout, which includes East St. Louis native Terreon Gully on drums, and seems to be getting a positive response in early reviews. AllAboutJazz.com's Dan Bilawsky praised it as “Harris at his honest and unswerving best," while JazzTrail.net called it “a smooth voyage to the world of jazz masters with imaginative, regenerating sounds deep-rooted in the powerful African American culture."

You can get a taste of some of the material from Sonic Creed in the first video up above, a full set of music recorded just a few weeks ago on September 17, 2018 at the Jazz and Heritage Center in New Orleans. After the jump, you can see a short video “trailer" for the album.

That's followed by clips of a couple of older performances- the first featuring Harris and pianist Alex Brown performing “I Fall in Love Too Easily” in April 2015 at Parlance Chamber Concerts in Ridgewood, NJ, and the second showing a performance of “Ninety Miles" from the 2012 Copenhagen Jazzfestival.

Next, there's an extended video of a performance and demonstration Harris did at a Virginia high school back in 2009, in which he teaches students what to listen for in jazz and talks about his approach to music. Produced by the Kennedy Center, it's obviously somewhat dated, but there's some nice performance footage as well as some interesting insights into Harris' process and personality.

The final video is an extended interview from 2015, recorded as part of New York University's Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series, in which Harris, who teaches at NYU, talks with fellow faculty member David Schroeder about a variety of topics.

For more about Stefon Harris and Sonic Creed, read the cover story about him from the November 2018 issue of DownBeat, and listen to him being interviewed on a recent episode of the revived “Jazz Session" podcast.









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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

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