With the release of his first solo CD, Keeping My Composure (C3 Records), composer, arranger and conductor Charley Harrison, is poised to join the ranks of the legendary multi-faceted composer / arranger /conductors that helped direct the course of jazz.
A native of Chicago, Charley was recently appointed Director of the UCLA Jazz Orchestra in Los Angeles, while still serving, since 1991, as Associate Director and guitarist for the eighteen-piece Chicago Jazz Orchestra. The CJO is currently backing his CD of original material and jazz standards, with guest performances by vocalists Freddy Cole, Kurt Elling, Sara Gazarek and the CJO’s Frieda Lee, guitarist Bobby Broom and pianist Cedar Walton, among others. Charley’s multi-dimensional compositions and arrangements meld modern, classic swing, Latin and contemporary jazz elements. In 2004, his adventurous orchestration of Gershwin’s RHAPSODY IN BLUE, for pianist Anthony Molinaro, won him a rave review in the Chicago Tribune, which stated, “Writing rhythms that press relentlessly forward, weaving New Orleans street beats and bebop-tinged passages…the last few bars…utterly unexpected, planted the piece firmly into the 21st Century.”
Some of Charley’s other recent highlights have included scoring writer/director Steven Gary Banks’ comedy Head Rush, orchestrating and conducting the premiere of Kenny Burrell’s Ralph Bunche Suite (an extended work for jazz orchestra and 5 featured soloists), arranging for Tony Award nominated vocalist Brian d’Arcy James’ album From Christmas Eve to Christmas Morn, and his appointment as director of the UCLA Jazz Orchestra. Charley has also been selected to score two upcoming films Oh, Baby (Hollywood Story Films), and Mosaic (CRC Entertainment). A graduate of Northwestern University, Charley has also attended Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music. Charley honed is composition skills in the advertising industry for diverse clients that included McDonald’s, the Chicago White Sox, Chuck E. Cheese and Bissell Vacuum Cleaners.
A rare breed of composer, Charley Harrison, is equally skilled with a baton in front of an orchestra or behind a computer in a studio full of synthesizers. His music has been enjoyed on the silver screen, the TV screen, and featured in symphony halls and nightclubs, nationally and internationally.