The Artistry of… Stefon Harris

The LA Times has called him “one of the most important young artists in jazz.”

“Stefon Harris is one of the most innovative and impressive artists in jazz, blazing new trails on vibraphone and marimba. While much of his music is on the cutting edge, he has a strong sense of tradition and his technical facility knows no bounds.” Those words come from National Public Radio.

His artistry has collected a staggering number of statements of praise just like those. His awards are many, but at the core it is a respect for tradition and a sense of artistic musical adventure that marks him as especially outstanding.

His hometown is Albany, N.Y. His intention when he was studying music was to play in the New York Philharmonic, and then he heard the music of Charlie Parker. I think there is a parallel: a reaching and striving for something newer and exciting while holding fast to the foundations — that is what is shared.

Music education is paramount for Harris. He is a dedicated educator. In 2017, he became associate dean and director of jazz arts at the Manhattan School of Music. There could not be a luckier class of students than those who have been touched by his generous and selfless sharing of his artistry.

The Artistry of… airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.