Biography

“Harris Eisenstadt, a drummer and composer originally from Toronto, takes a fixer’s approach to music making, looking for ways to fit the pieces together.  In his own music especially, he often seems intent on extracting consonance from dissonance or forging ungainliness into grace.” (Nate Chinen, The New York Times).

“An inventive drummer who sounds unlike anyone else, Harris Eisenstadt is probably most significant as a composer who has been involved with some of the most stimulating music of the past decade.” (Scott Yanow, Jazz Inside)

One of only a handful of drummers equally well known for his work as a composer, Eisenstadt is among the most versatile and prolific musicians of his generation. 

His eclectic resume includes studies with some of the most respected names in jazz and improvised music, West African and Cuban drumming, and performances in genres ranging from film and theater to poetry and dance to contemporary classical and opera.

Most active in jazz and improvised music, as both a bandleader and in-demand sideman, he has performed all over the globe, been awarded grants from organizations such as Meet The Composer, Canada Council for the Arts, American Composers Forum, and appeared on more than 50 recordings since 2000, including 15 as a leader.  

Eisenstadt’s album Woodblock Prints (No Business) was named album of the year (2010), and he was included on the short list for composer of the year (2010 and 2012) and drummer of the year (2013) in the El Intruso international critics poll.  Other recent honors include nominations for Up and Coming Artist of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association (2009), being included in the Rising Star Percussion (2013) and Composer (2009) categories of the Downbeat international critics poll, and the premiere of his first piece for orchestra, Palimpsest, by the American Composers Orchestra (2011), as part of the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute at Columbia Uuniversity’s inaugural readings.

Eisenstadt’s second orchestral work, Four Songs, commissioned by the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra, was premiered November 2013 at the Brooklyn Museum. He is a visiting instructor in the humanities department at SUNY Maritime College, and in 2013 received a SUNY professional development award to conduct research in Afrocuban folkloric music in Cuba. His recordings as a leader since 2002 are consistently included on critics’ best-of lists. His most recent recordings, The Destructive Element (Clean Feed) and Golden State (Songlines), were released in 2013. In early 2014 he was awarded a touring grant from the Canada Council for the arts.

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