When the unmistakable musical influences of Thelonious Monk, Danilo Perez, and Charlie Parker intersect with J.S. Bach, Scott Joplin, and the folkloric rhythms of Cuba, could one possibly conceptualize the celebration that occurs at that intersection?
Boston-based jazz pianist Kevin Harris plays a distinctive combination of traditional and contemporary music that seeks to explore such a crossroad.
JazzTimes magazine says "Harris possesses a spare style and gentle touch," and the Boston Globe quotes that "Harris has worked to refine the creative push and pull of a music that demands it."
One of the captivating elements of his group is the level of comfort and understanding they have with one another as they dive into passionate music conversations as well as playful exchanges.
Both his live performances and his recordings reflect Harris's determination to capture his audience through thoughtful music interactions and very complex solo sections.
Among his most recent and upcoming collaborations are Avishai Cohen, Steve Langone, Eddie Gomez, Marco Pignataro, Carlos Averhoff, Richie Barshay, Ben Street, Ralph Peterson, Ralph Bowen, Jason Palmer, Jerry Bergonzi, Cecil McBee, Bob Moses, and Terri Lyne Carrington.
Harris performs at the renowned national and international venues such as Blue Note (NYC and Milan), Scullers Jazz Club, Regatta Bar, Wang Theatre, Jordan Hall, Berklee Performance Center, Wally's Jazz Café. He has also participated at Jazz Festivals in Panama, Havana, and Boston.
Harris holds a master's degree in jazz performance from the New England Conservatory and an undergraduate degree in music education (Morehead State University, Kentucky). At the NEC, he studied with Fred Hersch, Mike Cain, Cecil McBee, George Garzone, and Danilo Perez, and performed with George Russell, Benny Golson, and Bob Brookmeyer.
After graduating from New England Conservatory, Harris worked at defining himself and his music through partnerships with key musicians and also studying and arranging the music of jazz's masters such as Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker as well as elaborate classical composers such as J.S. Bach and Beethoven. The continuing search for growth and new expression is clearly recognizable in his albums.
In 2010, Kevin released Chapters at Scullers Jazz Club and Blue Note NYC. This new album is a courageous compilation of complex dialogue and a fearless ambition to continue to explore the world of improvisation. It includes compositions by Harris and drummer Steve Langone, along with new arrangements of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker.
Harris also released two other albums, Freedom Doxology, demonstrating his ability to create an energetic interaction using odd meters and advanced harmony, a true treat for any listener. This album also displays Harris's interest in exploring and arranging Monk's and Coltrane's tunes.
His first album, The Butterfly Chronicles, holds a number of through-composed originals that take listeners through the stories told by the engaging notes played.
Harris is currently on the faculty at Berklee College of Music where he teaches piano, jazz ensembles, and summer theory classes; in previous years he has also taught classes at the Boston Arts Academy, and collaborated with the Northeastern University Fusion Arts Program teaching students from Brazil, India, and South Africa.
Committed to the community and to getting youth involved in music, Harris has conducted clinics and master classes in both public and private schools throughout the U.S. and abroad. In 2000 he started five separate band programs with help from Arts In Progress, a Boston based arts organization.
Harris thrives on communication. A typical performance/clinic always involves interacting with the audience that in turn inspires a sense of joyful connectedness and community. "Participation," he says, "is what keeps our souls alive."