Michael Joseph Harris
Michael Joseph Harris is principal guitarist and artistic director for two Gypsy Jazz bands based in Baltimore.
- Ultrafaux performs original music which is influenced by jazz Manouche, be-bop, Balkan gypsy music, swing, be-bop, funk, blues, and French musette.
- The Hot Club of Baltimore performs inspired arrangements of the Django Reinhardt repertoire, French songs, and vintage Jazz.
Michael Joseph Harris began playing guitar at the age of 12 and quickly became skilled in jazz by age 16, winning accolades as guitarist with the Downbeat Magazine award-winning Chantilly High Jazz Band. Harris was fortunate to study with guitarist Rick Whitehead of the Airmen of Note during high school, then later with Jack Petersen while at North Texas State University. The young guitarist soon began performing non-stop with the Latin Jazz group Bossalingo, and as a freelance guitarist in the DC area until moving to Baltimore in 2006. Bossalingo began as a trio with drummer Tom Barrick and bassist Eric Leifert and then expanded to include Alejandro Lucini, Leo Lucini, Alfredo Mojica, and later Jake Leckie on bass, Mike Kuhl on drums, and Cesar Orozco on piano. The guitarist became a father to his daughter Lotus in 2008, and finally returned to the recording studio in 2011 to produce Steps Beyond, an instrumental jazz recording of Cuban-inspired originals including an inventive arrangement of the Wonka theme, “Pure Imagination.” The highlight of the Steps Beyond Tour was a sold out set at Blues Alley in 2011 which included grammy-winning guest pianist Arturo O’Farrill.
In 2012, Michael began studying and playing the music of legendary French Manouche guitarist Django Reinhardt which led to the creation of Hot Club of Baltimore later that same year. Harris then founded Ultrafaux in 2014 to perform his original gypsy jazz compositions. He produced a popular HD concert video that same year titled Ultrafaux & Friends which has helped to create a worldwide audience with over 60,000 views to date. Michael has since self-produced six full-length recordings with both groups including 34 original Django Reinhardt-inspired instrumentals. Harris’ original song Latcho Dromo was chosen to be included on an International compilation produced by Jon Larsen called Django Festival #9, then Hot Club of Baltimore’s recording of Place de Brouckere was included on Django Festival #10 the following year.
Ultrafaux has done six successful tours of the U.S., Europe, and Canada including performances at The Kennedy Center, Charm City Django Jazz Festival, Django by the Sea, Django-a-gogo, The Midwest Gypsy Swing Festival, Napa Valley Jazz Society, and Festival Django Reinhardt in France. Harris has also been featured in The Baltimore Sun, on CBS news, WYPR, WPFW, WTMD, WDVX Blue Plate Special, and he created the first annual Charm City Django Jazz Festival. Michael has also been hired as principal guitarist in theater productions such as Slam! and Next To Normal and has performed with some of the best musicians in the world including Olli Soikkeli, Stephane Wrembel, Olivier Kikteff (Les doigts de l’homme), Jason Anick, Jake Leckie, Arturo O’Farrill, Marian Badoi, and Cesar Orozco, to name a few.
Before forming Ultrafaux and Hot Club, Michael led the group Bossalingo.
Bossalingo blends Jazz with Brazilian and Cuban rhythms in original compositions inspired by the music of Brazil, Cuba, American Jazz, Rock, World, and Folk.