aboit craig harris
Trombonist, Composer, Conceptualist, Curator, Artistic Director
When Craig Harris exploded onto the jazz scene in 1976, he brought the entire history of the jazz trombone with him. From the growling gutbucket intensity of early New Orleans music through the refined, articulate improvisation of the modern era set forth by J.J. Johnson, and into the confrontational expressionism of the '60s avant-garde, Craig handled the total vernacular the way a skilled orator utilizes the spoken word.
But the contemporary music world quickly realized that his talents went far beyond his superb skills as a trombonist. While he performed with a veritable Who's Who of progressive jazz' most important figures - including Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, Abdullah Ibrahim, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Jaki Byard, Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Lester, Charlie Haden, Beaver Harris-Don Pullen 360 Degree Musical Experience, and the list goes on and on - his own projects displayed both a unique sense of concept and a total command of the sweeping expanse of African-American musical expression with a global audience.
And it's those two qualities that have dominated Craig's past 30 years of activity, Although his career is clearly rooted in the world of progressive jazz, he has successfully traveled far beyond the confines of the jazz world and into the sphere of multimedia and performance art as composer, performer, conceptualist, curator and artistic director.
Projects like, UDU, a musical work with collaborator Sekou Sundiata. based on contemporary slavery in Mauritania, Souls Within the Veil, composed to commemorate the centennial of W. E. B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk. Brown Butterfly, a multi- media work based on the movement of Muhammad Ali with video, dance, and music. God’s Trombones, based on James Weldon Johnson’s classic collection of poems that refigure inspirational sermons by itinerant Negro preachers.
Craig Harris has also led a few of his own groups, best known are Tailgater's Tales, the R&B-ish Cold Sweat and Nation of Imagination.
Tailgaters Tales, featuring Craig accompanied by guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, melds intricate composition with exploratory improvisation and draws upon the entire spectrum of Black music for its repertoire.
Nation of Imagination features Harris with three vocalists, three percussionists, keyboards, guitar and bass. Conceived as a springboard for forays into the rich veins of world music, it was designed to form artistic alliances with musicians from different cultures. The first collaboration was with Eastern European Gypsy musicians and premiered in Turkey, then toured Europe. A collaboration with West African percussionists is the most recent project.
Look for the release of Craig’s Brown Butterfly double CD in the January of 2018!