Guitarist/composer Joel Harrison reunites his groundbreaking group Free Country this October. The concept for the band started in 2002 when Harrison released the first of three Free Country records on the Act label, in which he created radically creative jazz arrangements of country and Appalachian tunes. The success of the record, which included a then barely known singer named Norah Jones, brought Harrison acclaim throughout Europe and the U.S. In 2018 Harrison recorded the 3rd Free Country record with luminaries such as David Binney (his longtime ally), Brian Blade, and Jon Cowherd.
The touring band includes a powerful cast, all of whom Harrison has worked with on and off for two decades: David Binney (saxophone), Stephan Crump (bass), and Jordan Perlson (drums). The group will perform music from all three of their Free Country records. The timeless, haunting melodies of this music anchor the flights of improvisation that the band creates anew every night. The tour is funded in part by South Arts through the auspices of the Doris Duke Fund and the Jazz Road initiative.
Joel Harrison: Guitarist, composer, arranger, lyricist, writer, educator, and vocalist Joel Harrison has “created a new blueprint for jazz” (New Orleans Times-Picayune). A Guggenheim Fellow (2010), Harrison’s compositions have been commissioned by Chamber Music America, Meet the Composer, New Music USA, and many more. A native of Washington D.C., the guitarist has released twenty-two records and composed works for orchestra, string quartet, solo cello, and percussion. Notable releases include three editions of Free Country, featuring Norah Jones, David Binney, Everett Bradley, and Tony Cedras; Spirit House with Brian Blade; the recent America at War for jazz orchestra; and String Choir: The Music of Paul Motian. Harrison’s body of work connects multiple American traditions, founded in jazz but veering into classical, rock, country, and all manner of American roots music. Succinctly described by the New York Times as “protean… brilliant,” he is the founder and director of the Alternative Guitar Summit, a yearly festival devoted to new and unusual guitar music. He is also an author having just released Guitar Talk: Conversations with Visionary Guitarists.
David Binney: Acclaimed as a considerable and highly individual compositional talent, saxophonist David Binney is one of the most prolific jazz musicians on the scene today. Winning praise from critics and colleagues alike, David was recently singled out by Jazz Times as one of a handful of "players who have created an alternative jazz-scene... all of whom are playing adventurous, original music." David has recorded 20+ albums as leader or co-leader and recorded on more than 300 other albums. He is known for his performances and recordings with such prestigious groups as Louis Cole, the big bands of Gil Evans and Maria Schneider, as well as with Jim Hall, Uri Caine, and Vinicius Cantuaria, and Chris Potter.
Stephan Crump: Transcending barriers of genre, Crump has performed and recorded with a diverse range of musicians, including Jim Campilongo, Jorma Kaukonen, and Lucy Kaplansky, to Vijay Iyer Trio and Sextet, Ches Smith Trio, Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, and Mary Halvorson. He frequently tours with his own group, Rosetta Trio. Crump is a first call bassist residing in Brooklyn, New York.
Jordan Perlson: A long time resident of New York City, Jordan now lives in Nashville and keeps a busy touring and recording schedule through the U.S., Canada, Central America, Europe, Japan, Korea, China and Mongolia. He has shared the stage with such musicians as Kaki King, Trevor Hall, Bobbey Avey, Becca Stevens, Hiromi, David Liebman, Gary Burton, Chris Potter, Greg Osby, Cuong Vu, Henry Hey, Donny McCaslin, Brad Shepik, Adrian Belew, and many others. Jordan also spent two years drumming for the New York cast of Blue Man Group.