Jazz pianist, organist, composer and arranger Paul Harrison was born in Manchester, England. As a youth he constantly showed an adeptness and interest in musical directions beyond (and counter to) where his teachers were leading him, and he was improvising long before he was exposed to jazz. He settled in Scotland after entering Edinburgh University on a prestigious piano scholarship, where, during his final year he was awarded the Tovey Memorial Prize. After graduating he turned away from his classical background while immersing himself in the burgeoning and supportive Scottish jazz scene.
He won the Scottish regional final of the Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition in 1998 and again in 1999, both years going on to compete as one of six British finalists in London. In recent years Paul has been called on to play with many great outstanding international performers, including Chris Potter, David Binney, Bobby Watson, Jesse Davis, Lea DeLaria, Joe Locke, Ulf Wakenius and Warren Vache.
In 2009 Paul won the award for Best Pianist at the first Scottish Jazz Awards ceremony, and in 2011 received another award for Best Project for his composition The Hospitalfield Suite. In 2010 Paul was commissioned by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to write an arrangement of music by Miles Davis for guitarist John Scofield to play. Recent projects include two CDs with contemporary jazz saxophonist and highly distinctive composer Martin Kershaw, and a UK tour with saxophonist and composer Phil Bancroft’s Home, Small as the World show. In 2012 he tackled setting to music to the words of Scots poet William Soutar for a theatre show In a Sma Room. More recently he can be seen in an experimental duet Herschel 36 with percussionist Stuart Brown in which they play extended, freely improvised electronic music.
Paul now teaches on the jazz degree course at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and at The University of Edinburgh.