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Dancer VIP: Judith Jamison – Alvin Ailey former Artistic Director

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Quentin Harris, Laying Foundations

Submitted by on 20 Nov 2006 – 11:01 AM Comments

Over the past decade, Quentin Harris has quietly become a force to be reckoned with in the New York house scene. With a classic sound that is accessible without losing its edge, he was quickly noticed by the legendary Shelter crew when he moved to New York City, and soon was working alongside such DJ gods as Timmy Regisford. Developing his chops in Detroit, the birthplace of techno itself, Harris fine-tuned his production skills in the hip-hop and R&B world before realizing that he wanted to make music that really meant something to him in New York, where he brought a healthy dose of the “if I can make it there” mentality.

Portrait: Quentin Harris

Now a seasoned veteran of the New York club scene, Harris is focused on his production work again, bringing his technical expertise and innovative sound to such artists as Mariah Carey, India.Arie, and Patti LaBelle. His passion has always been the music though, and he searches for unknown talent more often than not, preferring the spark of raw creative collaboration with emerging artists such as Monique Bingham, Colton Ford, and the ethereal vocal styling of Jason Walker. He and Walker are currently working together on a full-length album for the Junior Vasquez label JVM. In the meantime, Quentin’s own album, No Politics, featuring many of the artists he loves to work with, just dropped this fall. The title refers to his disdain for the clubland politics that tend to define the highly competitive New York scene. He refuses to lobby for Billboard positions or cater to the pseudo-celebrity machine surrounding some of the better known DJs the city is famous for, choosing instead to focus on his craft.

This approach makes a Quentin Harris set, at venues such as his recent monthly residency Fresh Fruit at Cielo in Manhattan’s ultra-trendy Meatpacking district, a very personal and uplifting experience. Eschewing the trappings of DJ fame and red rope attitude, he chooses instead to carry on in the DJ booth along with everyone else on the dance floor, providing a refreshing exception to the rule that most DJs can’t actually dance.

The ever-shifting sands of the New York club world make this a uniquely opportune moment for Quentin. The mega-club era, defined by major venues such as Sound Factory, Palladium, and Limelight, has devolved into a nightmarish ghetto of violence and excess in the West Chelsea warehouse district. Those looking for a more genuine dancing experience are now confined to much smaller spaces such as Cielo, but Quentin would like to see that change again.

He is starting a new party called Carry On, appropriately enough, downtown on Varick Street where Shelter recently found a home as well. Several album projects with the likes of Walker and Colton Ford threaten to make him the kind of star he never intentionally tried to be. He has also released a well-timed continuous mix compilation, Coast to Coast, that charts his own musical history, from the Rolling Stones to early electro and classic house.

Building on this solid foundation of artistic growth, Quentin shows no signs of fatigue. Indeed, he is invigorated by the talent that he has found to collaborate with, developing creative relationships that will stand the test of time. The uncertainty that surrounds the world-famous underground scene of New York City continues to confound most of the players in clubland, but Quentin’s lifelong obsession with music will continue to guide him to greater and greater heights.

D. Michael Taylor & Jeffery Taylor