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Stefon Harris and Blackout, named for their rejection of traditional jazz definitions, embrace sleek, slinky soul, funk, and hip-hop—like Stevie Wonder rubbing elbows with George Gershwin and bop icons.
Educator, vibraphonist, and composer Stefon Harris has been heralded as “one of the most important young artists in jazz” by the Los Angeles Times. A four-time Grammy® nominee, he is a seven-time best mallets player from the Jazz Journalists Association, the recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, Downbeat’s Critics Poll Winner for Vibraphone (2013, 2015), and 2014 Expanded Critics’ Poll for Vibes from Jazz Times. He won a 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album for Wonder: The Songs of Stevie Wonder as a member of the SF Jazz Collective. Harris earned a bachelor of music in classical percussion and a master of music in jazz performance from Manhattan School of Music. He tours worldwide with his bands Sonic Creed, Blackout, and Ninety Miles. Harris teaches at New York University and is artistic director of Jazz Education at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). He has been an artist in residence at Fontana Chamber Arts in Kalamazoo, Michigan; Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska; and San Francisco Performances. Harris currently teaches at the Brubeck Institute through its distance learning program and at the institute’s Summer Jazz Colony. Harris’s landmark TED Talk, “There are No Mistakes On The Bandstand,” was the most-watched talk in its 2011 release and has over 500,000 views.
“His music needs no labels like ‘postmodern’ or ‘cutting edge’. It is Stefon Harris music, as Charles Mingus, he insisted, was Mingus music.” — Jazz Times Magazine