36th Annual Jazz Festival
Friday & Saturday April 4 & 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
NOTE: This year the West Central All-Stars will be the opening band for Friday night as they used to in the past.
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/New York-based jazz pianist Kevin Harris plays a distinctive combination of traditional and contemporary music that seeks to explore such a crossroad. Fred Hersch talks of Kevin as one who “plays and writes with flair and real soul" 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 Greg Osby, Francisco Mela, Avishai Cohen, Eddie Gomez, Carlos Averhoff, Richie Barshay, Ben Street, Ralph Peterson, Ralph Bowen, Jason Palmer, Jerry Bergonzi, Cecil McBee, Bob Moses, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Kevin performs at renowned national and international venues—Blue Note (NYC and Milan), Smalls, Scullers, JazzHus Montmartre, Wally's, to name a few—. His ensemble has also participated at the Jazz Festivals in Havana, Panama, Copenhagen, Lima, and Boston.
As a leader, Kevin has released four albums. DownBeat gives three stars to his most recent release, ‘
Museum Vol 1’and describes it as “overall smart, lyrical and engrossing”. The Phoenix chooses it as the “Editor’s Pick” and highlights “the tight/loose elasticity, the tension between form and freedom that was the hallmark of so many Miles Davis sessions with Shorter and Herbie Hancock … calm and collected, but also loose and full of surprises."
Kevin is currently on the faculty at Berklee College of Music where he teaches piano, jazz ensembles, and summer theory classes, and piano labs. Committed to the community and to getting youth involved in music, Kevin has also conducted local and international clinics in both public and private schools throughout the USA, Europe, Panama, and Peru. Harris thrives on communication. A typical performance always involves interacting with the audience that in turn inspires a sense of joyful connectedness and community.
"Participation,” Harris says, "is what keeps our souls alive.
Canadian trumpet player Darren Barrett was born to Jamaican parents. His father worked as an auto mechanic and his mother worked in a factory. Darren's dad was also a part-time musician who "pushed all his five children toward music," and there was always jazz, reggae, all kinds of music in the house. As a result, his three older brothers also became professional musicians.
Darren remembers that, "the first time I heard Miles Davis was on the record 'Round About Midnight, and when I heard Miles' sound and his approach, I knew that the instrument I wanted to play was the trumpet."
In 1986, Darren attended the Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, receiving a BA in Professional Music in 1990. During his Berklee years, Darren's fellow students included Antonio Hart, Javon Jackson, Mark Turner, Roy Hargrove and Sam Newsome. In addition to his inspiring collaborators, the infamous Mass. Avenue club, Wally's, served as a proving ground, as well. "At that time, Wally's had jazz sessions seven days a week, and it was a really great place to get your stuff together. My time at Berklee was extremely nurturing. The atmosphere was so inspiring, everyone working so hard to really be able to play at the highest level possible. Antonio Hart and I were roommates for a period, and did a lot of playing together, and grew together. In 1988, my curiosity was piqued by electronic music, programming, and synthesis. I dedicated time learning how to program drum machines and synthesizers, and started learning how to produce popular music."
He went on to receive an MA in Jazz Performance in 1993, and an MS in Music Education from Queens College in 1995. It was there that he came under the influence of Dr. Donald Byrd, who became something of a father figure for the young trumpeter. "I was studying with William Fielder, a classical trumpet professor at Rutgers University in 1989, and in 1990 I was offered a full scholarship to do my masters and doctorate at Rutgers. In one of my trumpet lessons, Mr. Fielder had a surprise for me. That surprise was introducing me to Dr. Donald Byrd. Donald stayed and listened to my entire lesson, and afterwards, gave me a lesson in improvisation. After the lesson, we went out for dinner and at that time, he invited me to study with him at Queen's College, where he was going to be teaching in the fall of 1990. Of course I wholeheartedly accepted his tremendous offer and opportunity. I studied with Donald until 1995 at Queen's College, and it was the greatest education a student could receive in music and life. I am blessed."
Barrett started a doctorate at Columbia University in 1994, trying to follow in Dr. Byrd's footsteps. But his studies there were interrupted by a special program that was being developed, called the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, at the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1997, Darren earned a Diploma in Jazz Performance from the Thelonious Monk Institute where he was a member of the inaugural class. At the Monk program, he studied with Barry Harris, Wynton Marsalis, and Clark Terry, and got to perform with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. In 1997, Darren entered and won 1st place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the biggest jazz competition in the world, which highlights a different instrument each year. The judges included Art Farmer, Wallace Roney, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Arturo Sandoval, and Clark Terry. New York times jazz writer Peter Watrous, describing Barrett's winning performance on 'Sweet Loraine' reported that "by the time Mr. Barrett got going, with blues phrases and shouts and riffs, the audience, not in the least bit cynical, and looking for a bit of showmanship, was hollering." Later, Barrett told Watrous "when I played 'Sweet Loraine' I was thinking about Louis Armstrong. Not because I wanted to imitate him, there's no point in doing that, but because I wanted something of his energy."