Joel Harrison

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Joel Harrison
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) guitarist, composer, arranger
Instruments electric guitar
Labels 9 Winds, Koch Jazz, ACT, HighNote, Innova, Sunnyside, Cuneiform, Whirlwind

Joel Harrison is an American jazz guitarist, singer, composer and musical arranger. He was born in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Bard College, New York, in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in composition and performance.[1] His father was Gilbert Harrison, the editor and owner of the magazine The New Republic,[2] and his mother was Anne Harrison (née Blaine).[3] The couple had four children: James, David, Joel and Eleanor.[3]

Harrison has identified the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Allman Brothers Band and Washington guitarist Danny Gatton among his early musical influences.[2] Having begun his career as a musician in Boston during the early 1980s,[4] Harrison moved to the Bay Area of San Francisco, where he led several musical ensembles and became a sought-after session musician.[5] Since 1999, he has been based in New York City.[5] His mentors and teachers have included Joan Tower, Ali Akbar Khan, W.A. Mathieu and Charlie Banacos.[1][4]

In 2010 he was appointed a Guggenheim Fellow.[4] That same year, he founded the Alternative Guitar Summit (AGS),[4] an annual festival based in New York that aims to present and explore the guitar's full potential in all musical genres.[6] The AGS advisory board is headed by Pat Metheny, while the 2017 Summit includes initiatives hosted by guitarists such as Harrison, Marc Ribot, Larry Campbell, Chris Eldridge, Steve Cardenas, Cindy Cashdollar and Miles Okazaki.[7]

Several of Harrison's albums have received critical acclaim, including Free Country (2003), Harrison on Harrison (2005) and Urban Myths (2009).[5] His work has also included film scores, big-band projects,[5] and a collaboration with Indian sarod player Anupam Shobhakar, titled Leave the Door Open (2013).[8] The AllMusic website describes Harrison's style as an "electrifying blend of creative jazz, modern classical, and ethnic fusion",[5] while Down Beat magazine has rated him "a guitarist, composer and arranger of amazing skill and breadth".[4] His other collaborators have included Dave Liebman, Mark Feldman, Marty Ehrlich, David Binney, Dewey Redman, Norah Jones, Uri Caine and Christian Howes.[1]


  • 3 + 3 = 7 (1996; 9 Winds)
  • Range of Motion (1997; Koch Jazz)
  • Transience (2001; Spiritnectar)
  • Free Country (2003; HighNote/ACT)
  • So Long 2nd Street (2004; ACT/HighNote)
  • Harrison on Harrison (2005; HighNote)
  • Harbor (2007; HighNote)
  • The Wheel (2008; Innova)
  • Passing Train (2008; Intuition)
  • Urban Myths (2009; HighNote)
  • Life Force (2010; Orange Mountain)
  • String Choir: The Music of Paul Motian (2011; Sunnyside)
  • Holy Abyss (2012; Cuneiform)
  • Search (2012; Sunnyside)
  • Leave the Door Open (2013; Whirlwind)
  • Infinite Possibility (2013; Sunnyside)
  • Mother Stump (2014; Cuneiform)
  • Spirit House (2015; Whirlwind)


  1. ^ a b c "Joel Harrison @ All About Jazz". All About Jazz. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Netsky, Ron (April 17, 2013). "Joel Harrison: Guitar chameleon". City Newspaper. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (January 8, 2008). "Gilbert Harrison, 92, Ex-Editor, Dies". The New York Times. p. C14. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Bio – Joel Harrison". Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Monger, James Christopher. "Joel Harrison". AllMusic. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  6. ^ "About: Alternative Guitar Summit". Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Alternative Guitar Summit: Celebrating the roads less taken on the guitar ...". Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  8. ^ Larkin, Cormac (March 14, 2014). "Joel Harrison & Anupam Shobhakar: Multiplicity: Leave the Door Open". The Irish Times. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 

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