Joel Harrison: If You Have To Ask "Is It Jazz?"... It Is
JH: I hope so. Definitely. Although I've got so many projects I want to record now, I don't know when or how they're all going to come out. I know High Note wants to put out the French-American one. I've also got a CD I'm finishing of songwriting, where I sort of came back to who I was 15 years ago, but from what I know now. I love that music, and I want to try to get that out there, too. I'm not exactly sure how to do that.
AAJ: Is that with musicians other than the guys you normally play with?
JH: Some of them are similar, but there is a different band to some degree. But Stephan Crump is on bass, Ben Whitman on drums, Jamie Haddad, [organist] Gary Versace plays a lot.
AAJ: Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you want to say?
JH: Just a quote based on your experience last night: If you have to ask "Is it jazz?" ... it is.
AAJ: I'm putting that on a t-shirt. Did you just improv that right now?
AAJ: That's fantastic.
JH: Maybe that could be the name of the article. The main thing for me is that I'm just so privileged and so happy, despite all the vicissitudes of being a musician, to be a musician, because our world is so troubled. There's such ignorance and conflict everywhere you look, and I really believe, the older I get, that artists are one of the main groups holding the line between culture and chaos. Not individually, but collectively what we do is helping the world in a small but enormous way. All of us have to keep devoting ourselves to that, because it really makes a difference. It's not noticeable day to day, but the world is just completely unhinged, and an artist's job is to keep that from happening in every way they can, and to make sense out of all the chaos.
Joel Harrison, Harrison on Harrison (HighNote, 2005)
Joel Harrison, So Long 52nd Street (HighNote, 2004)
Joel Harrison, Free Country (ACT, 2003)
Joel Harrison, Transience (Spirit Nectar, 2001)
Joel Harrison, Range of Motion (Koch International, 1997)
Joel Harrison, 3+3=7 (9 Winds, 1996)
Joel Harrison & Sonam, Native Lands (Minds On Hold, 1979)
Note: Harrison has also released two self-published titles outside the jazz realm, a singer-songwriter EP called Passing Train and a collection of his film music titled Film Music, Volume 1. More information is available at his website.
Photo Credit: Joerg Grosse Geldermann / ACT Music