Director, UCLA Jazz Orchestra; Director, Jazz Combo
Charley Harrison is one of a rare breed of composers that is as equally skilled with a baton in front of an orchestra, as he is behind a computer in a studio full of synthesizers. Known for his stirring orchestrations, as well as hard-driving swing, Harrison’s music has been enjoyed on film and television, symphony halls and nightclubs, in the studio and on the road, both domestically and abroad.
His compositions and arrangements have been performed by some of the biggest names in jazz including: Kenny Burrell, Clark Terry, Marcus Miller, Freddy Cole, Kurt Elling, Joe Williams, and Cedar Walton, and the Count Basie Orchestra.
Harrison’s recently released CD, Keeping My Composure, received critical acclaim, and appeared on the JazzWeek radio charts for 13 consecutive weeks. Harrison’s recent film scoring highlights include writer/director Don Goodman’s dramedy, Lavinia’s Heist (which premiered at the famed Cannes Film Festival); and writer/director Steven Gary Banks’ comedy Head Rush .
Prior to his relocation to Los Angeles, Harrison spent ten years working as a composer/producer in Chicago’s advertising community, where he created music for such clients as McDonald’s, The Chicago White Sox, Chuck E. Cheese’s and Bissell Vacuum Cleaners.
Even though he resides in Los Angeles, Harrison also serves as the Associate Director of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the city’s resident professional jazz ensemble. The 18-piece big band presents a yearly subscription concert series in which they have featured such guest artists as Kenny Burrell, Clark Terry, and Kurt Elling. As principal composer/arranger for the CJO, Harrison’s music is heard regularly on their subscription concerts, as well as their other performing engagements, including their annual appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors.
While in Chicago, Harrison taught courses in composition, arranging, and music theory at Northwestern University, Columbia College, and Harold Washington College.
M.M., Composition, Northwestern University; B.M., Arranging and Orchestration, Northwestern University; Berklee College of Music