Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Harnell, Jason

Harnell, Jason, drumset; b. Philadelphis, PA, 10 November 1969. He's lived in Philadelphia from 69-73; Los Angeles, CA from 73-80; St. Petersburg, FL from 80-90; and Los Angeles, CA 90-presesnt. Coming from a musical family, Jason Harnell started playing the drums at a very early age when long-time friend of the family, Louie Bellson, gave him his first real drumset.  Jason's father, Joe Harnell (born 8/2/24), is a highly respected pianist, composer, and arranger who's credits range from musical director for Peggy Lee, to on-camera M.D. on the Mike Douglas Show, to composing music for such television series as "The Incredible Hulk."  Jason's mother, Margaret Crockett (born 6/30/35), is a very gifted singer who has performed with Dick Hyman, Paul Whiteman, and Hank Jones.  Jason has three brothers: Jess (born 12/23/63), who's one of the top voice actors in Los Angeles; Joel (born 3/1/62), who's a keyboard player in the Tampa area; and Jeff (born 1/13/58), who passed away in May of 2001. 

While in High School (Jason attended Seminole High School in Seminole, FL), he was heavily involved in all of the music programs including jazz band, concert band, marching band, and percussion ensemble. He was also in the Suncoast Sound Drum & Bugle Corps. for a short while.  Jason was awarded several superior ratings at solo/ensemble contests and was the section leader of the high school drumline.  During his senior year, the drumline was awarded best percussion awards at several competitions and was touted as the best in Florida that year.  He went on to compose, arrange, and teach drumline at local high schools in and around Pinellas County, Florida and was teaching privately by this time as well.

From 89-90, Jason attended the University of South Florida as a jazz performance major and moved to Los Angeles in 1990. Shortly after moving to L.A., he was asked to join Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Noveau Band.  He toured all over the world with Maynard for two years and recorded a CD with him on the Concord Jazz label entitled "These Cats Can Swing." He left the band in '94.  From 97-00, he toured extensively with Keiko Matsui and Helen Reddy.  He appeared on televised concerts for the BET channel with Matsui. 
Since moving to Los Angeles, Jason has performed with John Beasley, Jeff Beal, Gilbert Castellanos, Bill Cunliffe, Dave Carpenter, Tony Dumas, Brandon Fields, Frank Gambale, David Goldblatt, Clay Jenkins, Bob Maize, Eric Marienthal, Lanny Morgan, Darek Oles, Bill Perkins, Jack Reilly, Kim Richmond, Bobby Rodriguez, Bob Sheppard, Andy Simpkins, Ron Stout, Frank Strazzeri, Tom Warrington, Bill Watrous, Tim Weisberg, Anthony Wilson, and Rick Zunigar. 

Currently, Jason is leading his own trio featuring Larry Koonse and Joe Bagg as well as doing gigs with such artists as Kei Akagi, Theo Saunders, Steve Tavaglione, Jamie Rosenn, Benn Clatworthy, Paul Smith, Dale Fielder, and Jack Sheldon.

Over the course of his life, Jason has studied with Hank Bellson 76-79 in L.A., Shelly Manne 1977 in L.A., Lou Vadala 82-84 in St. Petersburg, Tom Glaister 86-88 in St. Petersburg, Bob McCormick 89-90 in Tampa, FL, Joe Porcaro 89-90 in L.A., Vinnie Colaiuta 1990 in L.A., Dick Wilson 90-91 in L.A., Wally Snow 92-93 and again 97-00 in L.A., Dave Weckl 94-95 in L.A., Jeff Hamilton on and off from 95-99 in L.A., Bruce Becker 00-01 in L.A., Joe LaBarbara in 2002 in L.A., and Larry Goldings in 2002 in L.A.

He is currently endorsing Yamaha Drums, Bosphorus Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Vic Firth Drumsticks and Rhythm Tech Percussion Products.

In 1994, Jason married Sara Lawrance, his high school sweetheart.  They have been together since 1987.

Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Noveau Band: These Cats Can Swing; Keiko Matsui: Light Above the Trees; The University of South Florida Jazz Ensemble I: Suncoast '90 (1990); Steady Fready: Collective Cuts (1993); Charlie Lustman: The Golden Road (1994); Robert Kyle: That Other Place (1996); Debby Yeager: Mood Swings (1996); Robert Van: Penumbra (1997); Four Feet Down: The Fire Between Us (1998); Mark Chosak: Perception (1998); Robert Kyle: Blue Winds (1999); Kenny Kotwitz: Self titled (2000); Jonathan Dane: From All Sides (2000); Bill Fulton: Time (2001); Lulee Fisher: In Love Again (2002); Steve Venz: Self titled (2003); Robert Kyle: Doors (2003); Lulee Fisher: Get Happy (2004)

He has recorded for Cheeto's, Chili's Restaurant, Nissan, Suntory Royal Whisky, and the WB Cartoon "Poochini" and has appeared on "Beverly Hills 90210," "Married with Children," and the "Mike and Maty Show." 

Jason has been profiled in several publications such as Modern Drummer Magazine 6/94,7/94, 9/00, DRUM Magazine, the L.A. Jazz Scene, and National Drum Association 6/94. 

Contact information:
You can contact Jason at: 818-343-2729 or at jharnell@socal.rr.com

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