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Craig Harris: Outside the Veil

Craig Harris

It was more than 15 years ago that trombonist Craig Harris began searching for alternatives to the jazz clubs he had played as a sideman with Sun Ra, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sam Rivers and Lester Bowie as well as with his own groups. “I saw the limitation of the music industry; not the music, but the music industry,” Harris says. “We started seeing fewer European tours, fewer gigs in the States, and the money was down all over. So I wanted to go a different road and started to do the multimedia pieces.” So he established Nation of Imagination Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to the development of large-scale multimedia collaborative works.

Harris’ first endeavor in this new direction was “The Circle Unbroken Is a Hard Bop,” a collaboration with poet Sekou Sundiata that premiered in 1992 at City College of New York’s Aaron Davis Hall and subsequently toured colleges and fine arts institutions around the country before settling in for an extended run at New York City’s Nuyorican Poets Cafe. “In those settings I was exposed to a new audience–people who don’t go to jazz clubs but might go see theater or dance or poetry,” Harris says. “So we got some different people coming to see us without losing our musical integrity.”

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