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While pursuing a goal, a person may find himself in a location he never considered a possibility. An article in Guitar Player magazine about the Old Town School of Folk Music caused Ric Harris to leave North Carolina, which is a world depicted by the song “Cape Hatteras” on the new CD. A few months later, he caught Ira Sullivan and Joe Diorio at the Jazz Showcase and moved to Los Angeles to complete the program offered by the Guitar Institute of Technology. After returning to Chicago, Ric formed his own group and appeared in the area until 1991, at which time he retired to raise his children. Now that they are pursuing their own dreams, Ric has returned to the music scene with a new vision of jazz that has changed, resulting in a musical voice influenced by Joe Beck, Bill Evans, and Steps Ahead.
The jam sessions around Chicago, such as Chambers and Andy’s Jazz Club, helped Ric to redevelop his playing. He found the jazz standards written after 1960 to be more compelling because they combined tradition with a new approach to melodies. “Dolphin Dance” by Herbie Hancock was on of the first to catch his attention and can be found on Choices, the new CD by The Harris Group. The jam sessions also led him to consider jazz as something defined by more than improvisation. His compositions merge improvisation with melodies and arrangements often associated with the sound of today. Michael Govaere, the recording engineer at Downbeat Studio, claims Ric "has a knack for keeping it classy."
The creation of his band, The Harris Group, has resulted in appearances not often associated with the traditional jazz world. The Thursday night performances at Goose Island Unplugged usually concentrate on pop acoustic music, and Ric released the CD Choices by The Harris Group at that location in March 2012. Swizzlesteve, who handles the booking at Goose Island, states The Harris Group brought “out their great fans but their music was also able to keep everyone else in the bar hanging out until last call.” The song “Across the Divide” offers a picture of what such a night may resemble.
In many ways, that is the goal of The Harris Group, bringing jazz to people who enjoy music with both their head and their heart.