“He swings; and when he plays, he makes you feel good,” says The New York Times. A four-time GRAMMY® nominee, Harris has been honored as Best Vibist by Jazziz, Jazz Times, and Downbeat, and is a six-time Best Mallet winner by the Jazz Journalists Association. Heralded as “one of the most important young artists in jazz” (The Los Angeles Times) and a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, Harris earned a B.M. in Classical Music and a M.M. in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music. He has released six CDs for Blue Note Records including the Duke Ellington inspired 2006 African Tarantella …Dances With Duke and the GRAMMY® nominated The Grand Unification Theory (2003).
Stefon Harris’ 7th album and Concord Records debut, Urbanus, received rave reviews. People said, “This inventive disc, with his quintet Blackout, delivers in-your-face grooves.” The album went on to receive the GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Urbanus picks up where Evolution (Blue Note – 2004) left off. Both feature Blackout, his scintillating ensemble that’s as versed in modern jazz as it is with rhythms, melodies and soundscapes associated with R&B, pop, hip-hop and funk. Blackout displays a deeper group rapport as well as a more expansive sonic palette. Marc Cary complements the acoustic piano with Fender Rhodes, and alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin, lends his captivating vocoder work to the proceeding. Harris’ brilliance at broadening textures and colors comes to play with his sensational woodwind and string arrangements on a few of the compositions as well.
Harris tours worldwide with his band Blackout and the San Francisco Jazz Collective. He also teaches at New York University and has been Artist in Residence at Fontana Chamber Arts (Kalamazoo), The Lied Center (Lincoln, NE), and San Francisco Performances. Harris has served on the Executive Board of Directors for Chamber Music America and was the first musician elected to the WBGO-FM Board of Directors.
Ask a roomful of jazz fans about GRAMMY® Award-winning saxophonist David Sánchez and the ensuing buzz will be filled with exultant praise for one of the finest saxophonist of his generation. Such comments are entirely valid, to a point. The Puerto Rico-born Sánchez is unquestionably one of the finest, most progressive players on the contemporary scene, as more than a decade’s worth of bold, brilliant work has already proven. But, is Sánchez a master of Latin Jazz or an exemplary player who also happens to be of Latin heritage? The distinction may seem subtle, but is actually profound. As noted critic Bob Blumenthal observed, “[Sánchez] has been nurturing his own distinct variety in recent years, one that draws heavily on…Miles Davis and John Coltrane and weaves rhythms in fluid strands. What results is far closer to the more daring post-bop tradition than to standard Latin music.”
Sanchez started playing drums and percussion at age 8, before switching to tenor saxophone at age 12. The bomba and plena rhythms of his native country, accompanied with Cuban and Brazilian musical influences, shaped his early musical taste. In 1986, he enrolled in the Universidad de Puerto Rico, but went to New York City instead. In 1988 he was awarded a music scholarship to Rutgers University in New Jersey. Due to the University’s close location to New York City, Sanchez became an active member in the jazz community. His first musical experiences include pianists Eddie Palmieri and Hilton Ruiz. In 1991, thanks to trumpeter Claudio Roditi, Dizzy Gillespie invited Sanchez to join his “Live the Future” tour.
Concurrent to maintaining his busy tour schedule, Sánchez continues his longstanding tradition of assisting with jazz education programs. Such work, he says, “gives me great satisfaction. At the same time, it’s a real challenge, and you end up learning so much yourself. You give, but you receive too. It gives me such tremendous joy.”
Sanchez’s last Concord release Cultural Survival topped the critic’s best jazz albums of the year’s lists and garnered accolades from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and more.
Christian Scott has been recognized as one of the brightest and most daring young stars in music today. The Wall Street Journal says of his work: “Scott captures exciting moments of creative realization and a career in ascent.” At the mere age of 21, the New Orleans native was named one of the “faces to watch” by Billboard, received a GRAMMY® nomination for his Concord debut album Rewind That, and was honored as one of Ebony’s “30 Young Leaders Under 30.”
Scott, a New Orleans native, began playing the trumpet at age 12. At age 13 he was skilled enough to play in his uncle’s band; saxophonist Donald Harrison, the former Art Blakey Jazz Messenger. He later attended the prestigious New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, a high school whose other alumni include Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Harry Connick Jr. Scott was awarded a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston where he completed two degrees in two years.
Scott’s most recent solo album, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, was included in NPR’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2010, and received glowing coverage in countless outlets including People Magazine, Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, VIBE and MOJO. In April 2011, Scott was invited by President Obama to perform at the Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Harlem New York. He has made high-profile appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and was invited to perform during a handful of tour dates with Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s supergroup Atoms for Peace. He will be making an on-screen guest appearance in the HBO series about New Orleans musicians, Tremé, later this season.