The Sound
The vibes virtuoso can shift easily from funky to fusion to straight ahead swingers, but with Blackout (named thus because they are “about blacking out the narrow views surrounding and constricting the definition of jazz”) you can expect him to groove mightily on the strength of Terreon Gulley’s backbeat. Solo sparks will be provided by alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin, who also performs on vocoder, and by Harris himself, who remains a leading light on his instrument.

When & Where
It’s a Breeze & Hawk Haven Vineyard Stage in Cape May Convention Hall, Friday, November 9 at 9:00 PM

The Story
His passionate artistry, energetic stage presence and astonishing virtuosity have propelled vibraphonist/percussionist Stefon Harris to the forefront of the current jazz scene. Chosen Best Vibes in the 2017 Downbeat Critic’s Poll, the four-time Grammy Award nominee makes his Exit Zero Jazz Festival debut.

Currently the associate dean and direct of the Manhattan School of Music’s Jazz Arts Program, Harris originally planned to pursue his musical ambitions as a member of the New York Philharmonic, but his first exposure to the music of Charlie Parker convinced him to play jazz instead. Emerging during the mid-‘90s on sessions led by Wynton Marsalis, Joe Henderson, Buster Williams, Steve Turre, Charlie Hunter, Terell Stafford and others, Harris made his solo debut in 1998 with the Blue Note release A Cloud of Red Dust. The Grammy-nominated Black Action Figure followed a year later and in 2001 he collaborated with pianist and labelmate Jacky Terrasson on Kindred, a set of standards woven around a few original tracks. Following three other Blue Note releases — 2003’s Grand Unification Theory, 2004’s Evolution, which introduced his groove-happy band Blackout, and 2006’s African Tarantella: Dances with Duke — Harris jumped to the Concord label and in 2009 released Urbanus. For 2011’s Ninety Miles he joined forces with trumpeter Christian Scott and saxophonist David Sanchez. As a member of the SFJAZZ Collective, their 2014 CD, Wonder: The Songs of Stevie Wonder, won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. With Blackout, Harris will be premiering new music from his recent Motema Music debut and 11th album overall as a leader, Sonic Creed, which includes reimaginings of Bobby Timmons’ “Dat Dere,” Bobby Hutchinson’s “Now” and Horace Silver’s “Cape Verdean Blues,” along with stirring originals like the ethereal “Let’s Take a Trip to the Sky” and the highly-charged “Chasin’ Kendall.”

Lineups & Venues