Minneapolis-based guitarist Zacc Harris is in London this week, in a quartet which is doing the early set, opening for the sold-out gigs of the Mingus Big Band at Ronnie Scott’s, and then performing at Pizza Express Dean Street this Saturday lunchtime. He is pleased to be in London, and explains the background to his visit. Zacc Harris writes:
Serendipity works in mysterious ways. In 2013, I met Michael Janisch while he was touring through the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where I’ve resided for the last decade. As we both run record labels (Whirlwind Recordings and Shifting Paradigm Records) while also managing our own playing careers, we had loads to talk about, and while he was in town, we scheduled a session at my place with the other members of my group Atlantis Quartet, Brandon Wozniak (Dave King Trucking Company) and Pete Hennig (Tony Hymas, Fantastic Merlins). The session was great, working thorough a handful of tunes by Michael and myself, and a friendship was born.
Last summer, serendipity struck again, as Michael’s Cloudmakers Trio followed Atlantis Quartet at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and I was asked to sit in with them on their set. That night as we bounced around the stages and clubs of the festival, we dreamed up plans for Michael to tour in the Midwest with the Atlantis Quartet guys a couple months later, and I would come over to London for a week in 2016. So, here I am, and Michael has assembled a great run of shows, culminating in this Saturday’s afternoon set at the Pizza Express, and a truly stellar line-up of musicians to play my music, with George Crowley on saxophone, Andrew Bain on drums, and of course Michael Janisch himself on bass.
We kicked things off last night, playing the opening set at Ronnie Scott’s last night before the Mingus Big Band, then over to Jazz At the Oxford. Both sets were incredibly well received, and I was humbled by the warm reception of the audiences and the incredible London musicians that I met, like Hannes Riepler, Andre Canniere, and Dee Byrne. On the train back south from Kentish Town, Dee and I discussed composition and the idea of depicting our existential experience, an object, an event, or even an idea, through the music.
I realized that this is something I generally strive for in my compositions, whether it’s a feeling of angst conjured by concepts like “Lines In the Sand” or “The Edge of Reason”, the dark, hyperbolic animation of “Shadow Puppets”, or a depiction of something quite literal like “Ligaments” where I tried to stretch and pull the phrasing to paint a picture of this small yet vital piece of our anatomy. So it is tunes like these that we will play this Saturday, the 30th of January at 1:30pm at the Pizza Express, and with two more nights at Ronnie’s this week, this exceptional quartet will be deep inside the music and ready to bring these tunes to life, with their own experiences, as serendipity strikes once again.