Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #40

Zacc Harris (2012)

© Andrea Canter

I'm not sure when or in what context I first encountered guitarist Zacc Harris, but I am pretty sure of two things -- 1) it was at the Artists Quarter and 2) Zacc was leading the band. Most likely, I met Zacc on an early gig of the Atlantis Quartet, now considered one of the most hip, most engaging and most original of small jazz ensembles in the region. "Hip, engaging, original" all describe Zacc Harris himself, still a relatively young artist who seemed to arrive on the Twin Cities jazz scene fully formed, not only as a player and composer, but as a bandleader and entrepreneur.

Zacc Harris (2009)
After arriving in town in about 2006, Zacc soon had a trio gig which with one short hiatus has been a fixture at the Riverview Wine Bar on Sunday nights. The Atlantis Quartet (with Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig) followed close behind, putting out its maiden CD within a year and grabbing gigs at the AQ, Dakota, and more. Monk in Motian was one of Zacc's more unique projects, using the music of Monk to launch arrangements in the style of Paul Motian's Electric Band. He added keyboards (Bryan Nichols) to the Zacc Harris Group (with Brandon Wozniak and Chris and JT Bates), releasing a CD at the AQ a couple years ago. And for the past year at the AQ, Zacc has led more or less monthly evenings "with friends."

I mentioned Zacc as an "entrepreneur," not a term applied to many jazz musicians. Zacc finds gigs. If he can't find it, he creates it. For three years now, he has successfully sought funding to host Jazz at Studio Z, a series of 9-10 jazz evenings that not only feature an area ensemble in a concert setting, but also a pre-concert "workshop" - a presentation, demonstration, interactive discussion led by the musicians, and open to the public at no charge. With the closing of the AQ, such listening as well as learning opportunities are far too rare. But if anyone can make it happen, it's Zacc Harris.

The Atlantis Quartet, 2013 CD Release at the Artists Quarter