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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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SDSU Jazz Ensemble SDSU Jazz Ensemble

Special Guest to Perform with SDSU Jazz Ensemble

Composer and pianist Matt Harris is known for his world-class artistry.
By Teresa Monaco

It is a long-standing tradition for the San Diego State University Jazz Ensemble to perform with a special guest artist during a concert each semester. Performing alongside these professional jazz musicians provides students with an invaluable learning opportunity.

At 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, the SDSU Jazz Ensemble will perform with renowned pianist and composer Matt Harris. The performances will take place in Smith Recital Hall.

“Matt Harris is one of the most versatile musicians I have ever worked with,” said Bill Yeager, director of Jazz Studies in SDSU’s College of Music and Dance. “His depth as a composer is world-class and incredibly diverse. His abilities as a piano player are equally impressive, having just returned from a tour of Europe with trumpet-great Bobby Shew, a past SDSU guest artist.”

In addition to performing and composing, Harris is the director of Jazz Studies at California State University, Northridge. Recently, Harris conducted the Minnesota All-State Jazz Band. He frequently hosts clinics and performances at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Jazz Camps, where he and Yeager first worked together.

“He is one of the finest educators I have ever encountered,” said Yeager.

When music comes to life

Harris started composing music during his college career.

“I thought it was so cool to have other musicians play my music and have it come to life,” he said.  

His favorite part of the process is coming up with the initial melody and song. Additionally, Harris looks forward to hearing how the band interprets his music.

“I like it when creative decisions have been made,” said Harris. “Sometimes it catches me by surprise, but I like to validate the creativity of others.”

Yeager describes Harris’ compositions as “an absolute joy to program, and our students love every one of them.”

Special tribute

The Nov. 7 concert is dedicated to Pitt and Virginia Warner, SDSU alumni and generous supporters of the Jazz Studies program. Visit the SDSU School of Music and Dance events webpage for tickets and more information about the performances.