Powerhouse jazz at Quick Center with Stefon Harris & Blackout
One of today’s most accomplished and innovative figures in contemporary jazz, the composer, vibraphonist, and marimbist Stefon Harris, and his band Blackout, perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 15, 2013, at Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Tickets are $45, $35, and $25.
Heralded as “one of the most important young artists in jazz” by The Los Angeles Times,” Stefon Harris brings passionate artistry, an energetic stage presence and astonishing virtuosity to his music, propelling him into the forefront of the current jazz scene. Widely recognized and lauded by both his peers and jazz critics alike, Harris is committed to both exploring the rich potential of jazz composition and blazing new trails on the vibraphone. “His music needs no labels like ‘postmodern’ or ‘cutting edge’. It is Stefon Harris music,” wrote Nat Hentoff in Jazz Times Magazine, “as Charles Mingus, he insisted, was Mingus music.”
Stefon Harris & Blackout is a powerhouse unit consisting of Marc Cary on piano and keyboards, Casey Benjamin on sax, Obed Calvaire on drums, Luques Curtis on bass, and Mr. Harris on marimba and vibes. The band’s latest recording, “Urbanus”(Concord Records) is the highly anticipated follow up CD to “Evolution,” the acclaimed Top Ten Stefon Harris & Blackout recording.Called “a spectacular piece of work sparkling with optimism, ingenuity and emotional immediacy” (Amazon.com) and termed “brilliant’ by People magazine, “Urbanus” has sparked a media discussion on the cultural relevance of jazz while “delivering a different kind of unification: intellectually deep and emotionally resonant“ (All About Jazz), and earning Harris a Best Contemporary Jazz Grammy nomination.
Stefon Harris is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, receiving a B.M. in Classical Music and an M.M. in Jazz Performance. He is a recipient of the prestigious Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center, and his Grammy nominations include Best Jazz Album for “The Grand Unification Theory” and “Kindred,” and Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for “Black Action Figure.” The many awards and accolades he’s received thus far in his career include the prestigious International Bird Award for Artist Deserving Wider Recognition at the North Sea Jazz Festival (Netherlands). He was voted Best Mallet player in the Jazz Times Critics Poll by the Jazz Journalist Association, Debut Artist of the Year by Jazz Times, Chicago Tribune’s Debut of the Year, and Downbeat’s Critics Poll Winner for Vibraphone and Rising Star, Vibraphone, Newsweek’s Best Jazz CD, Best New Talent, and Readers Poll Best Vibraphonist by Jazziz Magazine.
Mr. Harris has performed at many of the world’s most distinguished concert halls, including the Carnegie Hall debut of “African Tarantella...Dances with Duke” (2006 Blue Note), Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, UCLA’s Royce Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, and The Sydney Opera House. In June 2007, his quartet performed a retrospective of his original compositions with the Jazz Sinfonica Orquestra in Sao Paulo, Brasil. He has toured and recorded with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and performed his original compositions with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra in Den Hague. He has toured South Africa, Brazil and Europe performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival, and the Umbria Jazz Festival among others.
An active educator Mr. Harris conducts clinics and lectures throughout the country. He currently teaches at New York University and was Artist in Residence at Fontana Chamber Arts (Kalamazoo, MI), University of Nebraska, Lincoln, San Francisco Performances, The Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and The Thelonious S. Monk Institute for Jazz Studies. Harris has served on the Executive Board of Directors for Chamber Music America and the Board of Directors for WBGO-FM (Newark, NJ).