Born: March 23, 1958 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Ric Harris has made a few changes to The Harris Group since last year. In his 2012 review, John Book hoped the “lineup will continue for awhile”, and the new CD, Errands, not only relies on two of them, vibraphonist Micah Rutschman and drummer Tom Haugen, but also adds a new bass player, Mason Cormie, who plays both electric and acoustic bass. The guests on this release, violinist Daniela Bisenius and flutist Jack Scott, help to define the tracks on which they appear. Finally, all of the compositions are originals by Harris that offer an aural picture of the world from places as far apart as the coast of South Carolina and the streets of Prague.
John M. Peters, believes The Harris Group “should appeal to non-jazz fans as much as it will to long term aficionados,” and this CD reaches that goal from two directions. First, all elements of the composition – the instruments chosen, the order in which they appear, the length of the solos, the interludes – define the music, not merely the improvisation. Second, a swing rhythm only defines two of the songs, while the other tracks vary from a waltz to blues to fusion to latin.
Melodies define the compositions of Ric Harris more than anything else. Whether it be the intensity of the title track or the relaxation found in a latin one, the songs stay with the listener through the melody more than anything else. As S. Victor Aaron stated last year in his review, the strength of Harris lies “in locating the goodness of a melody” through phrases that have an upbeat feel, and many of those things will be found this year on “Errands.”
... this debut is impressive and significant on many fronts. Choices is a musical triumph owing to the selection of material, the collection of first-rate players and the fine musicianship demonstrated by all. Choices is a testament to the successful choices Harris has made and affirms that he is certainly back for good. —- Edward Blanco, allaboutjazz.com, 20 June 2012
... “`Footprints'… my favorite piece on the CD; though Ric’s original composition `Across The Divide' came in a close second, mainly because of his energetic guitar mastery on it! This is a high-energy, high-talent group that surely merits my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98. —- Dick Metcalf, www.rotcodzzaj.com
Harris’ technique isn’t flashy, but his strengths lie in locating the goodness of a melody and enunciating it fully when he’s improvising. Citing the Joe Beck as a major influence, I can also find traces of Steve Khan in his vocabulary and tone. Rutschman is more of a pure improviser and he fulfills that role plenty good enough on his own. —S. Victor Aaron, somethingelsereviews.com
This was an album I found myself going back to just to play a few songs over, but also liking how well they sound and play together, especially the album closer, `Footprints', as if they’re saying 'we have left some footprints behind, we hope you will follow us.' Strong album from start to finish, I hope this lineup will continue for awhile and if not, I hope to be able to explore their music individually or in whatever setting. — John Book, thisisbooksmusic.com
Influenced by the jazz tradition that has taken root since 1960, echoes of Joe Beck, Weather Report's acoustic side and more things that any middle aged jazzbo would consider too new to be called ‘classic', this guitar man wears his travels well knowing how to please an audience that is looking meat and blood rather than fleeting hits. —Chris Spector, midwestrecord.com
With `Choices', The Harris Group, as the quartet is known, exhibits strong camaraderie in creating engaging and stimulating music that, albeit not ground breaking, will no doubt stand the test of time. —Hyrar Attarian, Chicago Jazz Magazine
Ask any ten artists or bands what the intent of their last record was and I can promise you a variation on the same answer simply stated ten different ways. The Harris Group makes no bones about their intention with Choices, a visceral and cerebral assault on the senses. Normally an artist can hit one with specific intent but to nail both and be able to do it with such incredible ease is simply a gift. —Brent Black, www.criticaljazz.com
Choices (Self-produced, 2012)
Tracks: Choices; Paula's Waltz; Dolphin Dance; Cape Hatteras; Across the Divide; Isfahan; Russell Square; Chances Are; Around the Block; Footprints.
Personnel: Ric Harris: guitar; Micah Rutschman: vibes; Mike Daly: bass; Tom Haugen: drums; Chris Greene; soprano sax.
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