Bio + Press
Originally from New York City, Jesse Harris is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer of artists from all over the world. He has been making records since the mid 90s, when he started in the group Once Blue on EMI Records. It was his first experience writing for another singer, lead vocalist, Rebecca Martin. Combining folk, jazz and pop, the group defined a direction for Harris and was also notable for featuring the guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel.
As a solo artist since then Jesse has released 13 albums, including many with his former backing band The Ferdinandos and one all-instrumental recording (Cosmo). His forthcoming album, Music For Chameleons (to be released March, 2017 on Sunnyside Records) finds him again with Will Graefe (guitar) and Jeremy Gustin (drums) of Star Rover, as well as Jesse Carmichael (keys), of Maroon 5, and Jason Lader (bass). Special guests include Petra Haden on backing vocals and Brazilian string arranger Maycon Ananias, who played all the keyboards and arranged the strings on Jesse’s 2012 release, Sub Rosa.
In 2003 Jesse received the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year for Norah Jones’ breakout hit “Don’t Know Why,” from her debut album, Come Away With Me, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Four other Harris compositions appear on it, “Shoot The Moon,” “One Flight Down,” “I’ve Got To See You Again,” and “The Long Day Is Over,” and he plays guitar throughout. Since then, Jones and Harris have collaborated many times. She duets with him on “What Makes You” from his album The Secret Sun and sings harmonies on several others,Crooked Lines, While The Music Lasts and Watching The Sky. He appears as guitarist on almost all of her albums, contributing songwriting to The Fall, and produced her version of his song “World Of Trouble” for the Ethan Hawke film The Hottest State. That soundtrack features not only Harris’ score, but new versions of his songs by Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Cat Power, Feist, The Black Keys, M. Ward, Brad Mehldau, Bright Eyes (on whose album “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” Jesse also appears as guitarist), and others. Recently Harris and Jones appeared together in the Amy Poehler/Paul Rudd comedy They Came Together, performing his song “It Was The Last Thing On Your Mind,” also produced by Harris.
Other artists who have covered his material include Kandace Springs, Smokey Robinson, Sasha Dobson (whose album Modern Romance he co-produced with Richard Julian), George Benson, Pat Metheny, and Solomon Burke, on whose album Like A Fire Harris also plays guitar and sings backing vocals. Songwriting collaborations have included Madeleine Peyroux, Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot, Maria Gadu, and Vinicius Cantuaria.
In 2013 Jesse joined John Zorn’s The Song Project, along with Mike Patton and Sofia Rei, writing lyrics for various Zorn compositions and singing them at festivals worldwide with an all-star band that features Marc Ribot on guitar, John Medeski on keyboards, and Zorn conducting. Two albums of the group have been released on.
Since then, production credits include albums for Julian Lage, Forro In The Dark, and Petra Haden, who recorded an entire album of Jesse’s songs, entitled “Seemed Like A Good Idea – Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris” (Sunnyside Records). Harris and Haden are currently on tour in support of that release.
Jesse Harris – Music for Chameleons
Singer/songwriter Jesse Harris has made a career out of crafting stunning songs that are impactful no matter how they are expressed. The most effective vehicle for his compositions has been with his own voice and with the duo, Star Rover. For his new recording, Music for Chameleons, Harris expands the ensemble and creative input to create a collection of songs that are broad in scope and powerful in performance.
The New York based Harris is well known for his tremendous songwriting and for his collaborations with other celebrated musicians, including Norah Jones, Petra Haden, Kandace Springs and Melody Gardot. Music for Chameleons (the title taken from a book of Truman Capote short works) is another advance in his collaborative endeavors, allowing the music to blossom with the help of some brilliant musical minds, not only the members of Star Rover, guitarist Will Graefe and drummer Jeremy Gustin, but also keyboard/guitarist Jesse Carmichael (Maroon 5), bassist/producer/engineer Jason Lader (Rick Rubin, Frank Ocean, Maroon 5, Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas) and string arranger Maycon Ananias (Maria Gadu).
The concept for the recording arose from a recent tour for Harris and Star Rover on the West Coast. While in Los Angeles performing at the Blue Whale, Harris took the band into the studio with his friend and producer Jason Lader playing bass. Lader proposed that they invite Maroon 5 keyboard/guitarist Jess Carmichael to join them. The session went extremely well and produced two tracks, “On My Way Back” and “You Don’t Have To Be Alone.” Inspired by the session, Harris knew that he wanted to do more and got the ensemble back into the studio a couple of months later.
The record was truly a collaborative effort. Harris wrote new pieces or took recent pieces that he had written, and worked them out with Star Rover in rehearsals and live performance. They then took the material to Los Angeles, where Lader and Carmicheal were able to add to the collective sound and energy. Harris also reached out to his friend Maycon Ananias, a Brazilian composer and arranger, who, with the help of the Opera Orchestra Curytiba String Ensemble, provided some wonderful string parts to a number of the compositions. Petra Haden also appears adding her signature arrangements to two songs.
The music on Music for Chameleons is varied and informed by many traditions. The rhythms of the wistfully disjunct “On My Way Back” are inspired by Brazilian music. The deceptively optimistic tone of “Forget It Happened This Way” belies a lyric that depicts a flawed relationship and its pleasantly jarring mix of 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures. “I’m Not On Your Mind” and “You Can Only Wait So Long” illustrate melancholy with unique moods, a hazy mellowness in the former and a fidgety reluctance in the latter. “Anything Was Possible” was written for and performed by Harris in the Sally Field film Hello, My Name Is Doris, and revisited here as more of a jazz ballad than the folky original.
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