Amidst a serious shortage of great male jazz singers, Allan Harris is a blessing. With a rich velvety voice and gentle stage manner, Harris' voice and demeanor project "the warmth of Tony Bennett, the bite and rhythmic sense of Sinatra, and the sly elegance of Nat 'King' Cole (Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald). " Delivering a repertoire of familiar and beloved standards, Harris' romantically appealing voice reaches out with the heart-breaking depth that caresses a song, giving each it's fullest respect by combining the best of the past with his unique gifts to create something fresh and distinctive. Besides having total vocal control, Harris is also a superb musician with a natural ear, and the ability to accompany himself on the guitar while retaining his hallmark pinpointvocal accuracy and incredibly clear diction without affectation. From gentle ballads, to swinging tunes, to Caribbean rhythms, slow sizzling down-home blues and scatting, Harris shows with conviction, that not only does he have something to bring to the world of jazz, but that he is one of the leading male singers of his generation.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Harris was surrounded by music. His mother was a classical pianist and his aunt was an opera singer who later turned to the blues. Because Aunt Theodosia attracted the attention of famed music producer Clarence Williams, he became a regular dinner guest and often brought along other performers such as Louis Armstrong. Once Armstrong even baby-sat and terrified young Allan with his "frog like voice."
Allan Harris has thrilled audiences all over the world, from jazz clubs in Europe and Asia, to Music Festivals in Sweden, Turkey, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Holland, Italy, Finland, and live performances in some of Europe's most famous opera houses with the Metropole Orchestra, the Rias Big Band, the Thilo Wolfe Big Band, and others. He has recorded numerous CDs: Setting the Standard, It's a Wonderful World, Here Comes Allan Harris and the Metropole Orchestra, The Music of Duke Ellington, Laid Back and Love Came, the Songs of Strayhorn. Allan's recordings have featured such luminaries as Ray Brown, Benny Green, Mark Whitfield, Clark Terry, Claudio Roditi, Eric Reed, Jon Faddis and Nestor Torres. Tony Bennett has praised Allan's technique and integrity and called him "my favorite new singer." Sammy Cahn introduced Harris at Tatou in New York with Tony Bennett in the audience by saying. . ."Frank Sinatra says his favorite singer is Tony Bennett, and Tony Bennett says his favorite singer is Allan Harris."
A few years ago, when the Big Band of Lugano wanted to record Duke Ellington's Sacred Mass, they called Allan to sing the lead along with Jon Faddis on trumpet, and Michele Hendricks on vocals. That recording is available both on CD and DVD formats. Harris was invited to initiate a Jazz Series at Sotheby's where he debuted their inaugural season with Tommy Flanagan on piano. This was the first time Mr. Flanagan had played with a vocalist in 20 years, the last being Ella Fitzgerald. That concert was recorded for posterity by National Public Radio and was aired nation-wide.
BET Jazz has taped and aired Allan's live concerts with hosts Lou Rawls and Ramsey Lewis. He sang for the first Jazz Awards Show, held in Washington, DC and filmed at BET Jazz studios. That performance included Mark Carey and Chuck Mangione. The Smithsonian's exciting series "Jazz Singers" also aired several interviews and songs by Harris who was interviewed by Al Jarreau. CNN's Showbiz Tonight referred to Harris as "one of the three best male jazz vocalists in the country." Harris has been the JAS Aspen Vocal Master Master for 2 years working alongside Christian McBride, Loren Schoenberg and other jazz luminaries. His recent tribute to Billy Strayhorn was performed at the Kennedy Center on February 28, 2003 to a sold out audience. Last year, Harris sat on the Kennedy Center panel to choose the next US Jazz Ambassador.
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