J. Michael Harrison

Jazz Host

Born in Philadelphia within walking distance of Temple University, J. Michael Harrison’s musical open-mindedness was shaped by his older brother John, a guitarist, and his cousin, the drummer Harry “Butch” Reed. In grade school he was listening to Sly, Funkadelic, Miles, Herbie, Monk, Santana, and Coltrane, as well as Iron Butterfly, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Zappa.

His first show was WPEB’s Is That Jazz in 1993. He met artists from Philadelphia, New York, and beyond as he experimented with progressive, diverse, and adventurous programming. That continued for more than three years, but in 1994 he came to WRTI as a production volunteer. He filled in for Ludwig Van Trikt on Point of Departure, and then in 1996 started his own show, The Bridge, which continues to this day.

The Bridge won Philadelphia Magazine’s "Best Radio Program "award in 2002, and in 2007 Philadelphia City Paper called it the “Best On-Air Reminder That Jazz Didn’t Die in 1965.” The Philadelphia Clef Club made him a Stakeholder in 2016, and in 2017 the Jazz Journalist Association named him a "Jazz Hero."

J. Michael Harrison has taught classes in jazz at Rowan University, The Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, and in the Free Library of Philadelphia. Since 2008 he has taught music journalism at the University of the Arts. He has lectured at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania, has written liner notes, has sat on and moderated numerous panels, has curated series, produced events, and hosted concerts in Philadelphia, NJ, New York City, and New Orleans.  He was executive producer on Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s Brotherzone CD in 1999. He works closely with the Philadelphia Jazz Project. “Music is truly my sanctuary,” he says.

Mike can be heard on Mondays and Tuesday from 9 pm to midnight, and Fridays from 10 pm to 2 am.

Ways to Connect

Dominick Mastrangelo

New York-based composer, clarinetist and bandleader Aaron Novik gained significant attention and praise for his 2012 release Secrets of Secrets on John Zorn's Tzadik Records, which specializes in avant-garde jazz, improvised, and experimental music. 

Georgia Nerheim

The Wall Street Journal describes trumpeter and vocalist Bria Skonberg as "one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation."  Bria and her band visit with J. Michael Harrison in the WRTI Performance Studio for a live video presentation on Friday, November 15th at 4 PM.

Rugged Ram Records

Acclaimed British-Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and music producer Ola Onabule makes a special stop in Philadelphia to share selections from his new album, Point Less. He and his band visit with host J. Michael Harrison in the WRTI Performance Studio for an exclusive live video presentation on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11th at 4 PM.

Courtesy of the artist

The celebrated dynamic duo of Cuban-born pianist Axel Tosca and his vocalist mother, Xiomara Laugart, known as the "Voice of Cuba," visit with J. Michael Harrison in the WRTI Performance Studio on Friday, October 18th at 4 PM in advance of their highly anticipated return to @Exuberance.

Courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia-based percussionist, composer and educator Arturo Stable is originally from Santiago de Cuba.  He's performed with an impressive roster of artist including Paquito D'Rivera, Esperanza Spalding, Yosvany Terry, Elio Villafranca, Christian McBride and Gonazlo Rubalacaba.  Arturo can also be heard on Terri Lyne Carrington's 2013, Grammy winning recording Money Jungle.

Ernest Stuart

Ernest Stuart has performed with an impressive list of artist including The Roots, Orrin Evans, Billy Paul, Aretha Franklin, Terell Stafford, Seal and John Legend.  Ernest and his band join J. Michael Harrison in the WRTI Performance Studio on Tuesday, August 13th at 2 pm, prior to performing at the Kimmel Center's free monthly series, Sittin' In, the following evening.

J.M. Giordano

Pianist Lafayette Gilchrist's music can be heard on several HBO series, including The Wire, Treme and The Deuce.  He's the 2018 winner of Baltimore's renowned Baker Artist Award for music and longtime pianist for saxophonist David Murray.

Dayramir Gonzalez

Cuban-born pianist Dayramir Gonzalez and his trio brought the house down during a performance in Philadelphia last July featuring music from his 2018 release, The Grand ConcourseThe winner of three Cubadisco awards joins J. Michael Harrison in the WRTI Performance Studio on Friday, June 14th at 4 PM in advance of his highly anticipated return to @exuberance that evening.

Kwaya Marimba

Six years in, Kwaya Marimba at Friends School Haverford continues to impress. The student ensemble has performed concerts at local venues including The Barnes Museum, The Please Touch Museum, and The Philadelphia Zoo. Ten students along with their ten marimbas and their teacher Ed Nardi join Jazz Host J. Michael Harrison in the WRTI Performance Studio on YouTube on Thursday, April 4th at 1 PM for a presentation.

We have a great night in store for you on The Bridge! During the first half of the 10 pm hour, violinist and pianist Ben Sutin chats about his latest exploits, and then trumpeter Chris Stevens (who just made his film debut in La La Land) and Grammy-nominated vocalist Yocontalie Jackson will be in the studio to close out the hour. The 11 pm hour brings an encore broadcast of a 2015 conversation with the late Grammy-winning vocalist Al Jarreau.