Craig Harris “Breathe”
Craig Harris, joined by pianist Peter Drungle, performs a series of compositions, all entitled “Breathe,” that look at the need for us all to breathe in order to survive as a society and as a planet. Since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014, followed by the killing of Eric Garner in New York, Harris has felt an urgency to change the world through music. He has been paying particular attention to the concept of breathing.
New context, including COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on the Black community and the police killing of George Floyd, continues to inform this work.
Craig Harris is a composer-trombonist who has been a major figure in avant-garde jazz since he began working with Sun Ra in the 1970s. Harris’s music invokes the entire history of the jazz trombone—from the growling, gutbucket intensity of early New Orleans music through the refined, articulate improvisation of the modern era set forth by J.J. Johnson into the confrontational expressionism of the ’60s avant-garde.
While he performed with a veritable who’s-who of progressive jazz, including Sam Rivers, Lester Bowie, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Jaki Byard, and Muhal Richard Abrams, his own projects displayed both a unique sense of concept and a total command of the sweeping expanse of African-American musical expression. Those qualities have dominated Harris’s past two decades of activity, bringing him far beyond the confines of the jazz world and into the sphere of multimedia and performance art as composer, performer, conceptualist, curator, and artistic director.