Monday, June 11, 2012

Jeanette Harris - Music

Jeanette Harris - Music

  Jeanette Harris
The Saxiest Lady In Music!

By Rych McCain International/Nationally Syndicated Entertainment Columnist

     The day of women musicians being a novelty has long been over. Female musicians on every instrument in the orchestra have actually been a reality over the last 700 years and more. The plethora of all girl bands, female lead guitarists, drummers, bassists, keyboardist and horn players are currently in full force in every genre of music. But as with all disciplines be it art, academics, sports or whatever, there are always those who stand out amongst their artistic peers.

      Saxophonist and flautist extraordinaire Jeanette Harris is one such musician. The Fresno, California native started with piano at age seven and took up the sax at age ten. Following graduation from high school, Harris matriculated to the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance. Harris has toured throughout the U.S. playing major jazz festivals and was the featured saxophonist and flutist with the late Teena Marie’s band. She has two albums out “Reflections’ and “Saxified” on the J&M label and is currently working on her next CD which will feature Grammy Award® winning guitarist Norman Brown.
Jeanette Harris (Photo J&M Records)

     Now days many musicians of all genres including hip hop are complaining that they are restricted from creating and playing the type of music that they feel and want to make in order to satisfy the demands from record labels to make music that fit certain radio formats. Harris responds, “It’s the same in the jazz world. I think jazz is a good example. Sometimes artists aren’t able to express themselves the way they really want to. They have to follow that really strict format and a lot of the jazz stations have kind of gone down hill because of that. You have to of course please the audience, the radio listeners and people tuning in but they had it so one-wayish, especially for jazz, that it was getting watered down a little too much. So people who would typically listen to a jazz station would maybe turn to an R&B station because the listeners were getting bored with how much it was watered down.”

     This situation is actually not a concern with Harris who has her own independent label where she can do what she wants anyway. As she puts it, “In the jazz world, a lot of the stations have died down so I’m not going to create music for a station that don’t exit anymore. So I create music that I love and hope that other people will love it. So having that creative control is amazing and I can do what I want.”

     Do people still trip in 2012 when they see a female horn lead? Harris laughs, “People do trip especially when it is a more masculine instrument like a sax or a drum. As soon as I walk in the room people kind of look twice and they say let’s see what she can do. They figure you sound a particular way and I guess that’s where I’m unique because I’m very funky on the sax. I don’t follow what they may assume I sound like. It’s a prejudgment for females, you have to prove yourself.” When Harris composes what are the determining factors that she uses to select the type of horn she will use i.e., alto sax vs. soprano sax? She breaks it down, “I dominantly play the alto. I love that tone. A lot of people actually like the tenor because they say its closer to the human vocal voice but it all depends. I do work between alto and soprano. So some of the songs that are a little more sensual and sexy (I call it saxy – that’s my word for sexy now), I use a soprano because I feel I can get a little more intense with it and more sensual. And usually, if I’m trying to get real funky and just want to go for it, I play the alto. So those are the two main voices that I use when composing my music.”

     Harris praises her alma mater Berklee College of Music for having the complete musical program in terms of history, theory, musicianship and an encouraging atmosphere. She also has a line of perfume coming out with the new album and loves to play in intimate atmospheres where she can be close to the audience. Harris is endorsed by BARI Woodwinds and Unison Saxophones which she highly recommends for their sound and look. 

(C) 2012 Rych McCain Media/Syndication tm 
(You DID Hear It From Me!)