Firehouse 12 • 45 Crown Street • New Haven, CT 06510 • 203.785.0468

Joel Harrison


Performer's Website

Guitarist, composer, and vocalist Joel Harrison resists categorization: his music is informed by western and non-western traditions, notated and improvised music. His foundation is Jazz, but he is at home writing songs and complex chamber music as well. Harrison has released ten CDs of his own compositions and arrangements on six different record labels since 1995. Acclaimed NYC critic Bill Milkowski called his 2008 release, The Wheel, “a staggering work of indescribable beauty.”

Harrison graduated from Bard College with a bachelors degree in composition in 1980, studying with Joan Tower. He went on to study privately with numerous composers and performers, including Ali Akbar Khan, Abubakari Lunna, William Mathieu, Charlie Banacos, and Mick Goodrick, and has himself taught music to adults and children for many years. While living in the San Francisco area in the 1990’s Harrison organized tribute concerts to a number of great jazz artists including Jim Pepper and Jimmy Guiffre and released three CDs of his own compositions.

Since moving to New York City in 1999, his projects have included: Free Country (radical renditions of old country and Appalachian music); Harrison on Harrison (re-composed improvisations of the music of George Harrison), String Choir (string quartet and two guitars play music of Paul Motian); Harbor with renowned guitarist Nguyên Lê; The Wheel, an extended suite for string quartet and jazz quartet plus guitar, and Passing Train, a collection of original songs. A new Highnote CD, Urban Myths, was released in Spring 2009 and features David Binney, Christian Howes, Ambrose Akinmusire and others.

Harrison is best known for his composing and arranging skills. He has twice been selected as the winner of the Jazz Composer’s Alliance Julius Hemphill Composition Competition, and has been the recipient of 3 three commissions from Chamber Music America, as well as Meet the Composer, the Cary Trust, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, and others. His solo for marimba recently took first prize in the Percussive Arts Society’s worldwide competition. Other recent chamber works include a twenty minute solo for cello written for Wendy Sutter. Harrison is a four-time MacDowell Colony fellow. His allies in his various projects have included Dave Liebman, Norah Jones, David Binney, Uri Caine, Jamey Haddad, Dan Weiss, Daniel Kelly, Dewey Redman, Uri Caine, Todd Reynolds, Christian Howes, and Caleb Burhans. He continues to tour worldwide with his various ensembles.

Firehouse 12 Performances

Singularity: Music by Joel Harrison Septet Friday, December 17, 2010, 10:00p
Whirrr - The Music of Jimmy Giuffre Friday, October 23, 2009, 10:00p

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