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Mark Harris II – Interstellar

June 11, 2019

So, being relatively new to the c-jazz scene and having released his debut EP Imagine in 2015, I would imagine there are some who would ask “Exactly who is Mark Harris II?” Well, he is a seriously talented keyboardist (multi-instrumentalist, actually) hailing from St. Louis, MO who has worked with Tiffany Elle, Rhoda G., and the house band at St. Louis’ Cafe Soul.

One of the most diverse productions I’ve heard lately, his new album, Interstellar, is loaded—really loaded—with eclectic grooves ranging from techno effects to fusion to typical c-jazz with some R&B intonations. I am a fan of most of his compositions and journey here, although a couple of the deep fusion tracks (i.e. the lead track “Black Gold” and the title track) left me a bit dissatisfied. Still, those aside, Harris delivers a solid, creative vehicle to transport one to a very well-rounded place of delicious grooves.

On this eight-track project, tunes like “Bliss,” “Connected,” “Going Up,” “New Day,” “Color Wheel,” and “H-Town Jazz” are smart, well-produced, and full of electric energy.

That one could pack so much adept musicianship into one album is a full testament to one’s dedication to quality. If he continues to keep his soul close to the soul of this music, I can see this artist making his journey a long and pleasant one, one that many will enjoy with him along the way. In keeping with those up-and-coming promising artists, Harris is in a position to place himself easily among them. Two thumbs up. — Ronald Jackson