Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Harris, Ratzo B. (Harold Branson)

Harris, Ratzo B. (Harold Branson), bassist, composer, also plays some guitar, keyboard and voice; b. Indianapolis, IN, 25 July 1955. Ratzo was a nickname that Don Ontiveros, the leader of the San Francisco Mission Boys Club Jazz Band, gave him on what was his first road trip (an overnight to the 1968 International Jazz Band Competition in Reno). He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area 1963-1977.
His mother, Marsha G. Harris (b. Indianapolis, 1935) is a singer/actor/writer/percussionist. His father, William E. Harris (Indianapolis, 1929-93) was a trumpeter.  His brother, Paul H. Harris (b. Indianapolis, 1957) is a professional sailor who plays some guitar. His wife, Francesca Maese, is a singer.

He studied with Jerry Hahn, 1965-67; Michael Burr, 1969-70; Richard Feeves, 1972; Jeff Neighbor, 1971; Bob Soder, 1969, 70, 73; Juni Booth, 1975; Harold Seletsky, 1985. He attended the University of the Pacific's Summer Music Camp, 1968, 69, 70, 73. He was a member of the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, 1968-72. Although he dropped out of high school in 1973, Ratzo earned his GED in 2001, a Bachelor of Science degree (graduating suma cum laude, with honors) from Lehman College (CUNY) in 2004.

Recordings as sideperson:
Denny Zeitlin Trio: Syzygy (1975); Janet Lawson Quintet: The Janet Lawson Quintet (1979), Dreams Can Be (1982); Ken Werner Trio: Introducing The Trio (1987), Press Enter (1989), Guru (1993), Live at Visione's (1996); Ken Werner (larger groups): 298 Bridge (1981), Paintings (1992); Jane Ira Bloom: Modern Drama (1985); Mose Allison: The Earth Wants You (1991), Gimcracks & Gewgaws (1997); Roseanna Vitro: Reaching For The Moon (1978), Passion Dance (1996); Royce Campbell: Elegy For A Friend (1991); Bruce Arnold: Blue Eleven (1998), A Few Dozen (1999), Give 'Em Some (2001); Thomas Buckner: The Act Of Finding (1994); David Darling, Paul McCandless, Dave Samuels, Mike DiPasqua: Gallery (1980); Elliot Sharp: Tessellation Row (1984); Soldier Electric String Quintet: Sequence Girls (1983); Mike Nock: Succubus (1979); Joe Lovano, Judi Silvano, Ken Werner, Tom Rainey & the Lausanne Big Band (1995); Dream Hunter: Pleasures (1998); Jane Blackstone: The Human Touch (2000); David Lahm: More Jazz Takes On Joni Mitchell (2000); Bob Albanese: Painted Notions (1990); Connie Crothers Quintet: Live at the Outpost Performance Space (2004); Connie Crothers Quartet: Music Is A Place (2006); Roberta Piket Trio: Love and Beauty (2007)

Radio and TV broadcasts:
Jan. - Dec. 1992 - hosted weekly radio show "Jazz Focus" for WFYI-FM (NPR) in Indianapolis.
Appeared as part of Jane Ira Bloom group in 1983 "Good Morning America" segment, and as part of Cal Tjader group in 1975 television drama series about theSynanon oragnization.  Part of the 1992 Jim Pepper memorial broadcast from KTOO Radio from Juneau, Alaska. Still photo in 1993 documentary "Jim Pepper's Powwow."  Appeared in duo with Michael Moriarty in 1995 for Food Network's Robin Leach show (guest hosted by Bill Boggs) and a Tom Snyder radio show.  Performed as actor and composed an improvised score for 1985 Ken Feingold PBS film/video "Irony" and Kristin Lund independent video "Narcissus." Non-SAG extra in "Ragtime."  

Film soundtracks - without screen appearance:
"iSii," 1979 (Mitch Demarowsky, director) (new music for dance video)
"Isreal & Egypt," 1980 (Soundsright/Opensky Productions) (orchestra chart for industrial film)
"Untitled,"1982 (Soundsright Productions) (DX7/woodwind duet w/ P. McCandless for trade show)
"Democracy," 1992 (Perseverance Theater, Juneau, Ak).  (video of theater work)
"Parlor Dance," 1980 (Robin Feld, choreographer) (video of dance piece)
"Cameo," 1983 (Ruth Way, dancer) (video of dance piece)
- with screen appearance:
"Narcissus," 1984 (Kristin Lund) (independant video)
"Irony," 1985 (Ken Feingold) (video for PBS)

Unissued recordings:
A couple of hundred hours of cassette tapes from private loft scenes in New York (1980-1989)
ca. 10 hours of video tapes of live concerts with the Connie Crothers/ Richard Tabnik group (2001-2003)
ca. 90 hours of tapes of radio show, "Jazz Focus" (1992)
ca 20 hours of unmixed master tapes from NEA grant recording (1982-3)
Countless private tapes floating around the space-time continuum.

Magazine articles:
Sept, 1988 "Bass Player" magazine - artist profile
1999 - 2000, contributing columnist for "Bass Player" magazine.

1st rank Indiana statewide "Music Memory Award" (1961)
Phi Mu Kappa Symphonia "Outstanding Male Musician" (1972)
NEA career enhancement grant (1981)
Semifinalist Thelonious Monk Competition (1995)

Contact information:

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