Kate’s Soulfood
Street Date: February 12, 2021
Label: Love Productions 

Kates Soulfood is a spirited, soul-drenched ten track recording that pays homage to Allan Harris’ home of Harlem, NYC as only he can. 

Showcasing his brisk baritone and deft songwriting ability, Harris’ fourteenth release as a leader paints a vivid portrait of his vibrant neighborhood that draws heavily from a deep well of childhood memories. “As a child, the rhythmic rocking of the subway was music to my ears. Every Sunday I took a magical ride along those tracks from Brooklyn to Harlem, which became my island of refuge,” he says. Like his ancestors who emigrated there during the Harlem Renaissance, Harris saw Harlem as a place of opportunity, belonging, and most importantly, love. “The people that enveloped me with their love and teaching placed an armor of music, literature and history around my underdeveloped mind.” Kate’s Soulfood is the outcome of their heartfelt efforts. 

Among those that had an impact on the young Harris was his Aunt Kate, and her popular luncheonette Kate’s Home Cooking. Located on the corner of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 126th street, right behind the Apollo Theater, the diner was often frequented by musicians (and notably appears on the cover of Jimmy Smith’s Home Cookin’). Harris would spend his Sunday afternoons at his aunt’s restaurant, soaking in the sounds and sights, before catching a show at the Apollo. “I experienced many pivotal moments at my aunts’ restaurant. I witnessed parts of the civil rights movement, rubbed shoulders with exceptional people, and it was there that I really found my voice.” In composing the music featured on Kate’s Soulfood, Harris drew from these impactful experiences, and in doing so, has produced a wide-ranging sonic tapestry of his beloved neighborhood. 

To bring his vision to life, Harris enlisted GRAMMY winning producer Kamau Kenyatta, known particularly for his work with Gregory Porter. Harris’ A-list backing band includes his working rhythm section made up of Arcoiris Sandoval on piano, Nimrod Speaks on bass and Shirazette Tinnin on drums. Also featured is Grégoire Maret on harmonica, David Castañeda on percussion, Curtis Taylor on trumpet, Alex Budman on alto saxophone, Keith Fiddmont on tenor saxophone and Ondre J Pivec on organ. Harris plays guitar throughout the album, with the exception of on “Color Of A Woman is Blu”, which features Tonga Ross-M’au in his place. 

The contagious, vivacious energy of Harlem is personified on the opening track and album highlight “I Grew Up”, on which striking horn arrangements by Etienne Charles shine brightly. Against a backdrop of children playing and singing, Harris paints a vivid picture of an afternoon in Harlem, and proudly declares “Harlem is the place, Harlem is the place where I live,” perfectly setting the stage for the proceedings. 

Harris shifts gears on “One More Notch (Put Down Your Gun)”, on which he steps into the role of a former gang-member who pleads with his junior to get off the street, and follows it up with “Wash Away My Sins”, a mid-tempoed declaration of appreciation for the strong women who love and support Black men in today’s broken society. Harris shines on neo-soul infused tracks “Open Up” and “Shallow Man” before barring his romantic soul on “The Color of a Woman is Blu”. The back-half of Kate’s Soulfood, “99 Miles”, “Autumn Has Found You”, and “New Day”, were written for Harris’ friends and family that showered him with love throughout his life.

Closing out Kate’s Soulfood is “Run Through America”, which was released as a single in August. Written in response to the unjust police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, “Run Through America” is a modern-day protest song that ends the album with a call to action: to take to the streets and call out their name. The emotional music video was premiered by JazzTimes. It is a fitting end to an album about Harlem, a place where the civil rights movement boomed in the 1960’s - something Harris saw up close from his counter seat at Kate’s Home Cooking. 

Kate’s Soulfood is a tour-de-force for Allan Harris, who has been called the “Jazz Vocal King of New York”. Described by the Miami Herald as possessing a voice with “the warmth of Tony Bennett, the bite and rhythmic sense of Sinatra, and the sly elegance of Nat ‘King' Cole,” Harris has garnered wide acclaim from critics and legions of fans from all over the world. Recently, Harris made national headlines with his riveting work Cross That River, which tells the unsung story of America’s black cowboys and sheds light on their oft-overlooked contribution in taming the American West. Cross That River was featured in the New York Times, on NPR’s Weekend Edition, and on CBS and NBC

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris has remained in the public eye due to his weekly live stream concert series “Harlem After Dark”. These virtual performances, which stream on Youtube and Facebook Live and garnered attention from Forbes, regularly attract thousands of fans and have become a staple in many music lovers’ homes every Tuesday evening. Harris has often featured tunes from Kate’s Soulfood during these performances, and the music has been met with great enthusiasm. 

JOHN MURPH
DOWNBEAT
"Harris’ acumen for penning narrative songs matched with exemplary musicianship evoke an August Wilson-like splendor on Kate’s Soulfood." Feature article here

MORGAN ENOS
GRAMMY.COM
By revering their forebears on record, Bruce Harris, James Brandon Lewis, Dara Tucker, The Baylor Project, Allan Harris, Samara Joy, Charnett Moffett and the late Ralph Peterson, Jr. show that Black music is a self-sustaining universe. Read this article here.

JIM HYNES
GLIDE MAGAZINE
"... the music has been met with great enthusiasm as it will likely be for all who hear it in its entirety." Read this review  here.

SHAE FONTANA
BLEUBOP
"With hard proof that jazz is still loved, still fought for, still wanted and need, Birdland re-opened its doors this month. One of the first people to perform, was none other than, Allan Harris, who New York Times said was the best thing to see that weekend." Read the full review here.

BRIAN ZIMMERMAN
JAZZIZ
Chosen for Editor's Choice Playlist. See playlist here.

ALLEN SCOTT
ALL THAT'S JAZZ
"The Brooklyn-born, Harlem-based vocalist/guitarist/bandleader/composer Allan Harris is one the most accomplished and exceptional singers of his generation. A self-described “storyteller through the genre of jazz” he brings it all together with his new album, ‘Kate’s Soulfood’, a beautiful collection of songs crafted with love and a depth of life experience." Listen to this podcast here.

MATT MICUCCI
JAZZIZ
Featured in the Week in Jazz here.

JOHN CHACONA
LET'S CALL THIS
"Quarantine inspired wanderlust might be fine for some, but not for Allan Harris whose Kate’s Soulfood is a valentine to his beloved Harlem." Read this article here.

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICALMEMOIRS'S BLOG
"His beautiful, baritone vocals are as smooth as melted brown butter.  His poignant memories pour from my CD player and tell me stories of his life.  This is ‘soul jazz’ at its best." Read this review here.

BILL BUCKLEY
SOUL & JAZZ & FUNK
"Kate’s Soulfood’ is a collection of beautiful songs beautifully presented; each song has been crafted with love and a depth of life experience, and each one offers food for thought – some more provocative than others but, consistently, here, there are messages-a-plenty!" Read this review here.

SHAE FONTANA
BLEU BOP
Listen to this podcast here.

MARILYN LESTER
THEATER PIZZAZZ
" In 10 tracks of original music, Harris’ songs deliver an evocative portrait of personal experience, rhythmically rich and beautifully rendered in his sure baritone." Review here

EDITORS
BROADWAY WORLD
Read this announcement here.

RON SCOTT
AMSTERDAM NEWS
"Kate’s Soulfood is a delicious taste of Harlem revisited, spiked soul sprinkled with a message to the people, Harris’ ballads dipped in his original smoky honey croon sauce and a searing anthem to keep the truth in sight." Read the full article here.

GEORGE HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
Ringer of the Week! "This guy represents a style that needs to be revisited, especially in a day of anger and attitude." Review here

STEPHEN GRAHAM
MARLBANK
"That sound radiates up from a Harlem long gone all retro on the one hand with its lovely organic sound, no synths or finicky post-production to over-fancy it but still swimming in the folk memory to bubble into a resurgent spirit that ebbs and flows through jazz fashions. Allan's original songs actually say something and are the foundation of it all." Read the review here.

MARGIE GOLDSMITH
FORBES
Mentioned in 'Streaming The Music During Covid-19' article here.

EVA ROQUE
LES INDISPENSABLES - EUROPE 1
'Kate's Soulfood' is recommended on Eva Roque's daily podcast. Listen to the full episode in French here.

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORD
"A totally spirited romp through time and space, this set will ping chords you didn't know you had." Read the review here.

PETER QUINN
JAZZWISE
"Produced by Kamau Kenyatta, and with each song imbued with personal meaning, the world-class credentials of Harris' band are evident from the get-go, with every horn flourish, drum fill and solo serving the song in the most empathetic way possible." Review here

MAC RANDALL
JAZZTIMES
Video premiere of "Run Through America". View here

SUZANNE LORGE
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"Begun before and completed during the coronavirus crisis, Allan Harris’ Kate’s Soulfood (Love Productions) celebrates the post-Renaissance Harlem of the guitarist/singer’s youth. These 10 tracks reverberate with gospel-infused inspiration." Review here

MATT SILVER 
WRTI
'Harris sings and plays guitar with ardor and urgency and his sidemen meet the moment to amplify his message, as Harris calls for “A revolution for restitution.”' Read the full Jazz Album of the Week article here.

D. OSCAR GROOMES
O'S PLACE 

"Kate's Soulfood is a winning, reflective, and mobilizing set." Read the full review in the Summer 2021 O's Place Newsletter.

MORGAN ENOS
GRAMMY.COM
"Kate's Soulfood—which dropped last January—Harris paints a picture of that specific time and place, which fostered a veritable cornucopia of Black culture." Read the full Grammys.com article here.

DOROTHEA GANGEL 
JAZZ N MORE
"A call to protest, a conclusion. How gladly we would have stayed in the perfect world of childhood memories!" 4 star review in Swiss here

STEPHEN MARLBANK
MARLBANK
"...a seriously hot prospect of a jazz record." Read this review here.