Stan Harrison | The Optimist

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United States - NY - New York City

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Jazz: Crossover Jazz World: World Traditions Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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The Optimist

by Stan Harrison

Exotic sax centered jazz from the sax player who worked with Radiohead, Duran Duran and Serge Gainsbourg - not what you'd expect.
Genre: Jazz: Crossover Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Breath After Breath
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4:43 $0.99
2. The Optimist
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4:50 $0.99
3. On A Never Ending Day
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4:42 $0.99
4. What About Peace of Mind?
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4:25 $0.99
5. Living Every Day Now
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5:07 $0.99
6. Nothing Less Than You
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4:04 $0.99
7. Would I Ever Know?
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4:00 $0.99
8. Tulips, Too Late
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3:50 $0.99
9. From Under The Tracks
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3:44 $0.99
10. The Road Back
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4:38 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
I was born in Philadelphia, Pa, and raised in New Jersey (it's not as bad as it's made out to be). Soon after graduating from college with an almost, no, make that totally useless degree in sociology ( I learned, for example, that upon meeting people for the first time, kicking them and offering to sit on their lap is considered antisocial behavior - except in certain parts of Utah) I started working and touring as a full time musician. Unfortunately nothing my parents said at the time was able to stop me from doing this. I might add that before this nosedive into the world of glory and back stage lunch meat I spent a summer driving a cab.

My favorite rides were the ones which involved taking three transvestites from Camden to Philadelphia to buy drugs. Mind you, at the time I had no idea they were doing this but later, in the comfort of the bottom bunk in a converted van going from Phila. to Orlando, Florida I had a few moments to reflect on my past and realized that their throwing a rock at a third floor window, disappearing and then reappearing within 2 minutes only to be driven to the same place across the Ben Franklin bridge was not indicative of a "let's chat" moment. My second favorite ride was when I survived a threat to have my skull smashed in - I think that's how the three drunken construction workers put it. At this point I knew that I was good for only a few more months at this job. On the positive side I learned how to pump gas, drive a stick shift with the shift on the steering column (what do they call that?) and find my way to all the hidden treasures of Camden, New Jersey

Anyway, my first "real" band experience on a professional level (make that, semi-professional level - it's not professional until you don't have to back up a comedian) was with a band I'm sure everyone has heard of, THE DOVELLS. They were famous for such songs as The Bristol Stomp (one of the only dances I could sort of do) and You Can't Sit Down (actually performed by Bruce Springsteen in the beginning of his career -don't expect him to play it too often these days). This lasted for about 7 months until that fateful day when the phone rang and I was told that SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY & THE ASBURY JUKES was looking for a tenor sax player. I was so excited that I decided to find out who they were. I did, went to the audition and, as the saying goes, "I got the gig". I then made a mental note to buy a tenor sax - I was playing an instrument I borrowed from my good friend, Jon Herington (recently Steely Dan's guitar player)

This was the beginning of 2 1/2 years of "get on the bus", "get off the bus", "I'll see you and raise you a quarter (we played lots of poker - maybe low stakes now but losing or winning $10 made a big difference in our tax category in those days), and, lest I forget, many memorable playing experiences, I think.

Seriously, folks, I had a great time working with Southside but it got to the point where I couldn't play, eat or think without a moniter in front of me so I left the band, moved to a basement in Tenafly, New Jersey and then on to Greenwich Village in New York City. I soon found myself surviving on frozen Bird's Eye Corn. Did you know that if you add salt and pepper you actually double the nutritional content? Eventually, after selling one of the 2 tenor saxes Southside bought me (I had to pay my rent somehow) I got a phone call from the Jukes' horn section to join them in their work with DIANA ROSS. There is no need to go into this other than to say that I lasted for under 2 years (reaching out was OK but I was getting sick of the touching) and left to go on tour with DAVID BOWIE.

The Serious Moonlight Tour was a great tour to be on and it gave me the opportunity to become a founding member of THE BORNEO HORNS, a sax trio consisting of Steve Elson, Lenny Pickett and myself. We played on numerous records and did a few tours playing Lenny's music but I'm getting distracted - more so than normal.

In an effort to make this bio come to a close, I'll speed things up.

Some highlights after Bowie include doing two tours with DURAN DURAN, two tours with SERGE GAINSBOURG (my favorite playing situation in that I had a lot of solo space and a lot of freedom) and a host of other things - TV shows, records, concerts as well as club gigs which I love (when the sound doesn't suck and the floor isn't too sticky from beer spills and there is only minimal damage to my sax at each gig). I have also done some work with RADIOHEAD and THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS.

This CD, The Optimist, is the result of a solid year of composing plus a year or so of production by Gerard McMann and Tony Silver. In addition to my sax playing and composing it features vocals by Phoebe Snow, Najma Akhtar, Philip Bailey (of Earth Wind and Fire), and Andy Vargas ( of Santana)

Thanks for listening.

All the best,



to write a review

Kyle Verwers

The Optimist
When I heard the title track The Optimist I felt like I just walked into the hippest place in town. Sensational!

blema steinberg

The Optimist
Unique and different. The music continues to be haunting long after one has stopped listening. The sax playing is just fabulous and the vocals are a real plus. An amazing metamorphosis for someone who used to play rock 'n roll.

Rich Spencer

A phenomenally diverse musician
As much as I might feel the loss of the haunting Neo-Gothic flavour of Harrison's "Ties that Blind," I cannot fault his urge to demonstrate the magnificence of his range.
He leaps from a funk-edged jazz combo of piano, sax and flute, into a chill out groove with sublime Urdu vocals. He crafts tunes with the immediacy of electronica, balanced with seriously catchy melodies, and even the sublime "Living Every Day," a soul ballad which could easily have been exceedingly tacky in the wrong hands. It would be unfair to not mention the wonderful contribution of Andy Vargas' vocals which make this so enjoyable.
I did have one minor niggle, there did unfortunately seem to be an over reliance on the use of synth, especially in later tracks. Like CGI in movies, this is best utilised to fill in the gaps left by traditional means and should be mostly unnoticable. This balance is thankfully found in "The Road Back," which, being the last track, leaves a more pleasant taste in the mouth.
Overall, a very accomplished release, but I do hope he hasn't abandoned the darkness which made his first album so irrisistable.

They Might Be Giants

Stan Harrison
There are two kinds of sax players: Stan Harrison and al the rest

John Taylor - Duran Duran

The Optimist
Gorgeous! This CD will put Stan Harrison in the pantheon. There is so much depth to it.

Madeleine Oppelaar - van Els

I can be short.
It was love on first site! It is pioneering!
Thanks Stan;)

Lots of love,



The Optimist
Just received the CD, and had a listen to the music. Very highly recommended. The music is very relaxing and soothing to listen to. Good work Mr. Stan Harrison!

steve e.

Stan Harrison plays great!
Great sound! Great playing!

steve e.

Wonderful Stuff
Great playing! Great sound!

john petersen

Beautiful and original
Stan has a sound and style all his own. This album surprises, delights and inspires with each track. Stunningly gorgeous writing and playing.