Sunday, October 25, 2009

The new album URBANUS is on a roll

Hi guys, Great news; this years edition of NPR's All Songs Considered takes a look at, what it calls, this years BEST New Jazz Recordings, and Stefon Harris & Blackout's new album Urbanus is included. Check it out: Also, take a look at Stefon on the WBGO photoblog today:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Under the Radar, Review

Despite its deceptively cool demeanor (and what are vibes but cool's exotic echo?), Urbanus is part of an exciting new swerve in jazz, a truly American art form that forever absorbs and learns, learns and absorbs, then paints its lessons with a striking beauty for all to enjoy. The conversation is ongoing, and it's about time we listened. - Cory Frye, Under the Radar.

Urbanus, Amazon Review by Scott Woods

Pushing jazz into the future one influence at a time

If you like Stefon Harris, you'll like this record. It's not as straight-ahead as some of his earlier stuff, but that's the point of playing with this particular band, Blackout. When he plays with these cats the songs take a modern turn and incorporate a lot of different influences and colors.

I love this band, and Harris has eased up on the composing tip (but produces the record in full). it's got a few of my favorites players on the scene: Harris, Marc Cary on keys and Terreon Gully, who I am sure is the meanest-looking musician today that isn't a rapper. Trying to get into my world is saxophonist/vocoder player Casey Benjamin, who brings a really sharp edge to this record and to their live show that wasn't in the forefront as much on the first Blackout record. He plays vocoder old school style, like Herbie Hancock 70s-era "Trust Me" kickin' it: rich, mad expressive...not even trying to amplify the human voice at all, so much as play the part of sad computer. It's like the future singing to you. Amazing work.

There's a little something for every kind of jazz head here, but at ten tracks it may be too little for some who lean heavily in one direction or another. Me? I appreciate Harris's mission, so I just go along for the ride, in all the directions he wants to go as a leader. In his world, jazz is supposed to be fluid and pushing forward and this record is a genuine testimony to that.

My favorite track is "For You", a beautiful ballad that really showcases the tone and range of this band. When I heard it live a while ago I knew I had to get this record. It also adds some nice string and wind work.

Get it. It's what jazz should be doing now: tipping its hat at everyone it meets and incorporating them into its course.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Urbanus, OUT NOW

Hi all,

The time has finally arrived, the new album, Urbanus is out now.

Check out some demo tracks from the album at

Grab a copy today and let me know what you think.

Enjoy, and thanks for your support.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Album Urbanus - Demo tracks available!

Hi All,

With the album release just days away (Urbanus, August 25th), we're giving you a taste of what's to come.

Check out and have a listen to some of the tracks from the new album.

Enjoy, and thanks for all your support.

New album release, 5 days and counting... - Concert Schedules, Special Events & Much More!
~~ Concerts, Festivals, Benefits, Cruises, Fundraisers & More! ~~

The most anticipating new release set to ride the stereo system effortlessly in "Urbanus", brings us some tour dates to catch Stefon Harris & his group, "Blackout" in live action! Below are some dates, times & areas to where you can go & see these playas come out & get down! Straight from the bandstand!

For more info on Stefon Harris & Blackout - Urbanus, visit:

Tour Dates

September 7: Detroit Jazz Festival
October 13 - 14: Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
October 16 - 17: The Outpost, Albuquerque, NM
October 22-25 Dizzys Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC
October 30: Spivey Hall, Decatur, GA
November 5-8: Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL
November 13 Distance Learning Clinic, The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
November 14: The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
November 22: De Bartolo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame IN
Dec 3 - 6: TV performance, Melodies of Christmas, WRGB-TV, Albany, NY
January 30, 2010: University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO
January 31, 2010: Murry's, Columbia, MO

To download artist photos, bios, press releases or cover art, please visit the Press Room:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Stefon Harris & Blackout present their new album URBANUS - News Article

Concord Jazz today announced the release of vibraphonist-composer Stefon Harris's 7th album as a bandleader and Concord debut, Urbanus. The new release picks up where 2004s Evolution left off in that it features Blackout, his scintillating ensemble that's as versed in modern jazz as it is with rhythms, melodies and soundscapes associated with R&B, pop, hip-hop and funk. The 10-track-album will be available August 25, 2009.

The GRAMMY-nominated musician has been hailed as one of the most important young artists in jazz (Los Angeles Times), and is widely recognized by both peers and critics alike for his innovative compositions, blazing new paths on the vibraphone and marimba. On Urbanus, Stefon Harris and Blackout display a deeper group rapport as well as a more expansive sonic palette as Marc Cary complements the acoustic piano with Fender Rhodes and alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin lends his captivating vocoder work to the proceeding. Harris brilliance at broadening textures and colors comes to play with his sensational woodwind and string arrangements on a few of the compositions as well.

One of the biggest indicators of our growth as a band is the level of contribution from all the members of the ensemble, Harris enthuses. The music not only incorporates all of our writing but everyone's cultural backgrounds as well.
To illustrate this point, he points to the discs opening track, Gone, which bounces to the pulsating polyrhythm of go-go, a sound indicative to Washington, D.C.s urban landscape. Both Williams and Cary hail from Washington, D.C. It doesn't hurt also that Harris is a big go-go fan. How can you not like go-go? Its so funky, Harris says.

The delicate For You provides the perfect example of how Blackout balances the worlds of the acoustic with the electric co-written by Benjamin and Sameer Gupta. Before Harris recorded it, For You was a favorite on Benjamin's Myspace page and has since undergone several incarnations. Harris first heard the tune when the band was rehearsing in San Francisco. Cary had just recorded the song for another date and shared it with the band. We checked it out then decided to play the tune, Harris recalls. That evening we went over it and actually played For You in the concert. It was a perfect vehicle for the chemistry in our band. Casey later added a bridge and we continued to expand on the composition.

The album also includes a fantastic makeover of Stevie Wonders early-70s song “They Wont Go (When I Go)" from Wonder's 1974 LP, Fullfillingness First Finale. Urbanus closes with the spellbinding ballad “Langston's Lullaby," which is dedicated to Harris newborn infant, Langston.

Recorded just a few days before the historic presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, Urbanus sparkles with optimism, ingenuity and emotional immediacy. How could it not? Harris says when asked if the anticipating for the inauguration had an impact on the sessions. Being in the studio, knowing that we were getting ready for the inauguration of the first African-American president how could that not change my life? I was extremely inspired and that created a great feeling of audacity and some fantastic energy.