Michael Joseph Harris
Michael Joseph Harris has extensive experience as a guitarist, composer and band leader in the styles of Gypsy Swing, Straight Ahead Jazz, Funk and Latin Jazz.
Michael Joseph Harris - Composer/Guitarist
Michael Joseph Harris began playing guitar at the age of 12 and quickly became
skilled in jazz by age 16, winning accolades as guitarist with the Downbeat
Magazine award-winning Chantilly High Jazz Band. Harris was fortunate to study
with guitarist Rick Whitehead of the Airmen of Note during high school, then later
with Jack Petersen while at North Texas State University. The young guitarist soon
began performing non-stop with the Latin Jazz group Bossalingo, and as a freelance
guitarist in the DC area until moving to Baltimore in 2006. Bossalingo began as a
trio with drummer Tom Barrick and bassist Eric Leifert and then expanded to include
Alejandro Lucini, Leo Lucini, Alfredo Mojica, and later Jake Leckie on bass, Mike Kuhl
on drums, and Cesar Orozco on piano. The guitarist became a father to his daughter
Lotus in 2008, and finally returned to the recording studio in 2011 to produce Steps
Beyond, an instrumental jazz recording of Cuban-inspired originals including an
inventive arrangement of the Wonka theme, “Pure Imagination.” The highlight of
the Steps Beyond Tour was a sold out set at Blues Alley in 2011 which included
grammy-winning guest pianist Arturo O’Farrill.
In 2012, Michael began studying and playing the music of legendary French
Manouche guitarist DJango Reinhardt which led to the creation of Hot Club of
Baltimore later that same year. Harris then founded Ultrafaux in 2014 to perform
his original gypsy jazz compositions. In only two years, Michael self-produced four
full-length recordings with both groups using Kickstarter campaigns to raise money.
He also produced a popular HD concert video titled Ultrafaux & Friends. During this
same period, Harris’ original song Latcho Dromo was chosen to be included on an
International compilation produced by Jon Larsen called Django Festival #9.
Ultrafaux has since done three successful tours including performances at The
Kennedy Center, Charm City Django Jazz Festival, Django by the Sea, and The
Midwest Gypsy Swing Festival. Harris has also been featured in The Baltimore Sun,
on CBS news, WYPR, WPFW, WTMD, WDVX Blue Plate Special, and created the first
annual Charm City Django Jazz Festival. Michael has also been hired as principal
guitarist in theater productions such as Slam! and Next To Normal and has
performed with some of the best musicians in the world including Olli Soikkeli,
Stephane Wrembel, Olivier Kikteff (Les doigts de l’homme), Jason Anick, Jake
Leckie, Arturo O’Farrill, Marian Badoi, and Cesar Orozco, to name a few.
My Jazz Story
Published on: 2016-05-08
One of the first jazz shows I encountered was seeing Joe Pass perform at the Maryland Inn when I was around 13 years old. It was a phenomenal experience to watch him from just a few
feet away. Later, when I was about 15, I was fortunate to watch Paco de Lucia perform with Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin at the Wax Museum in DC. Both of those shows gave me
unending inspiration to play guitar and practice until one day I could lead my own band and play shows.
My House Concert Story
House concerts are very important right now to get quality music out to people who want a quality listening experience. I have enjoyed almost all of the house concerts I have done
throughout the years and all of them have proven to be more lucrative for the artists involved then many other live music venues. Keep hosting and keep attending these great shows.