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 12 albums, including many with his former backing band The Ferdinandos and one all-instrumental recording (Cosmo). His forthcoming album, No Wrong No Right (to be released 2/10/15 on Dangerbird Records) finds him with backing group Star Rover and many special guests, including Julian Lage, CJ Camerieri, Mauro Refosco, Margaret Glaspy, Larry Goldings, and Sofia Rei (See the full press release below).
In 2003 he 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 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.
Recently 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. A limited edition of vinyl 45s has just been released on Tzadik Records (tzadik.com).
JESSE HARRIS WITH STAR ROVER – NO WRONG NO RIGHT
Veteran singer, songwriter and musician Jesse Harris has just announced the release of new album No Wrong No Right, out Feb. 10 on Dangerbird Records.
The Grammy-winning Harris had his breakthrough in 2003, having written Norah Jones’ first and biggest hit “Don’t Know Why.” He subsequently has had a vibrant solo career of his own, along the way writing for and collaborating with renowned artists such as Bright Eyes, Cat Power, Feist, M. Ward, Melody Gardot, Mike Patton, John Zorn, Solomon Burke, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris.
On No Wrong No Right—Harris’ 13th solo album—he drew inspiration from Neil Young’s approach on After the Goldrush. “Some of that record was done with Crazy Horse, and it’s a rock record,” Harris explains, “but then you also have these hushed acoustic folk songs, and it keeps shifting back and forth between the two distinct moods. I always loved the way that worked, so I started there, but with No Wrong No Right, I also added a third element.”
The three elements Harris speaks of are an inspired set of full-band tunes recorded with guitarist Will Graefe and drummer Jeremy Gustin of experimental duo Star Rover; a more subdued, acoustic-anchored series of duets with guitar virtuoso Julian Lage; and a trio of evocative instrumental tracks.
The album initially grew out of Harris’ discovery of Star Rover and the friendship and musical chemistry that developed between them last winter. “I fell in love with their band,” Harris says. “I was sort of a groupie, checking out their gigs all the time. One day they invited me over to their loft to play, and it felt great from the first song. Which inspired me to write a bunch more songs.
“Will and Jeremy, musically, are adventurous and free, and at the same time completely supportive of the song. They love to work out arrangements, but they play with a lot of looseness and expression. It’s so hard to find that perfect combination—either people don’t want to rehearse, and just play all over the songs, or they’re too rehearsed and there’s no spontaneity. As a singer and songwriter, I feel like they support the music, but at the same time completely challenge it.”
The duos with Lage—“I Probably Won’t See You For A While,” “Don’t Let Me Pass By” and John Zorn co-write “Kafiristan”—are sparse and disarmingly intimate, offering a refreshing contrast to the record’s more fleshed-out tracks. Harris raves about the musical abilities of Lage, who also plays in duos with Wilco’s Nels Cline and Chris Eldridge of The Punch Brothers. “Julian is a remarkable young musician,” Harris says. “He’s a jazz guitarist, but he’s equally interested in songcraft and experimental music. Playing with him is always exciting—he’s extremely sensitive, and has such a beautiful tone. I really wanted to capture our duo on this record.”
The album’s three instrumentals—also backed by Star Rover—continue Harris’ tradition of including a few sans-vocals tracks on every release. The aptly named “Staring Contest” features a loping, repetitive and extremely hummable guitar figure. “Pandora’s Box” is a dreamy meditation on the modern rabbit hole of social media, and “Miyazaki” is a tribute to the legendary Japanese anime director.
No Wrong No Right also features a mysterious and gorgeously wintery rendition of Rodgers & Hart standard “Where or When” bolstered by the organ playing of Larry Goldings (James Taylor, Madeleine Peyroux, Maceo Parker). Other notable guests on the record include CJ Camerieri (Paul Simon, Bon Iver, yMusic) on horns and horn arrangements; Margaret Glaspy on vocals; frequent Harris collaborator Mauro Refosco (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Atoms for Peace) on percussion, marimba and electronics; and Sofia Rei—who also performs with Harris in the John Zorn-led Song Project—on vocals.