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David Harris has distinguished himself on trombone, tuba, and as a composer/arranger in a multitude of musical styles. He has performed around the world, including the Berlin Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, the Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Pops, the Smithsonian Institute, and jazz clubs such as the Blue Note, Tonic, and the Knitting Factory.
A 1981 graduate of the New England Conservatory, Harris associates with a wide variety of musicians performing jazz, pop, and traditional folk music. He is an associate professor at Berklee College of Music in the Harmony Department. As a jazz composer, he has won the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for music composition three times. He is a longtime trombonist and composer/arranger for the avant-garde big band Jazz Composers Alliance, most recently performing, composing, conducting, and producing its newest release The JCA Orchestra Live at the BPC. He is a trombonist and tubist in the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, a second line brass band that bridges traditional New Orleans-styled music with modern jazz. Mr. Harris has been featured in soundtracks for TV, commercials, Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry, a klezmer soundtrack for the movie Stranger Among Us, the soundtrack for the movie Opposite of Sex, as well as recording on more than 50 albums.
Harris has performed in the U.S., Canada, and Africa with the Ethiopian funk band Debo Band, recording on its debut album on the Sub Pop label, as well as recording his composition “Trek from Ethiopia” for the Trikont Label compilation Beyond Addis. His most recent projects include Triarky, a power trio featuring Mimi Rabson on electric violin, Harris on electric tuba, and Phil Neighbors on drums, performing original rock, ska, funk, and jazz; T’nT, a tuba tenor sax duo with Jeff Robinson performing groove soul and funk tunes from the 1960s and '70s; and the Epic Trio/Quartet, with Harris on trombone, Mimi Rabson on violin, and Tino D’Agostino on electric bass, performing groove soul and funk tunes from the 1960s and '70s.
"In my first year of college I failed because I was in the wrong place: I was studying science. I went from dean's list in high school to failing or getting Ds in every single course within six months. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because that was when I realized it wasn't what I wanted to be. From there I went straight into music and I never stopped. In the same way, I want all my students at Berklee to find themselves."
"You need to work very hard to be a successful musician your whole life, but if you really love it, it's hard work that you don't mind doing. And if my students can see that the hard work will help them achieve their goals, that's the beginning of the whole rest of their career. Then they begin to establish the necessary skills and work habits."
"As a working musician, every day I use the same tools that I'm teaching my students, so when I give students information, it's not 'learn this because I say so' but 'here's how you can use it on a gig' and 'here's the craft that you need beyond your art on a daily basis so you can make a lifelong career out of music.'"
"I want my students to understand the necessity to have competent craft beyond their talent. They need to have technical skills beyond just inspiration to be successful, and to have a dogged vision of what it is that they want out of music and pursue it. As a bandleader, who do I hire? Maybe not the most creative person, but someone I know will go out there and aggressively put their mind to what they need to do."
"Our love of music can be used for a lifetime of sharing that music with the public, and through hard work, a worthy career."