Harris Eisenstadt - Biography

Brooklyn-based drummer and composer Harris Eisenstadt (b. Toronto, 1975) is known for his “deep-sighted and elastic view of improvised music in settings that are both small-scale and expansive.” (The New Yorker)

He has appeared on more than seventy recordings since 2000, including more than twenty as a bandleader. Eisenstadt is perennially included in the Rising Star Percussion category of the Downbeat International Critics’ Poll, and his recordings consistently appear on critics’ year-end lists. 

Eisenstadt’s first piece for orchestra, “Palimpsest,” was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra (2011). His second orchestral work, “Four Songs,” was commissioned by the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra (2013). Eisenstadt’s first string quartet, “Whatever Will Happen That Will Also Be,” was recorded by Mivos Quartet (2015).

Eisenstadt has performed all over the globe, and received grants from organizations such as South Arts, Meet The Composer, American Composers Forum, Durfee Foundation, & Canada Council for the Arts.

His recent composition project, Poschiavo 50, fifty pieces for ensembles of any size, was composed at the UnCool residency in Poschiavo, Switzerland (2017). All fifty have been performed in the US, Canada, Brazil, Cuba, and Europe. The first batch was documented on Canada Day Quartet Live (Clean Feed, 2019), recorded live on tour in Europe.  The second batch was recorded live on tour in Europe spring 2022.

Eisenstadt has contributed radio programs, articles, and podcasts to National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Afropop Worldwide, and John Zorn’s Arcana. In 2020 he completed the first chapter in the ongoing music and film project titled We Are All Worthy of One Another, a collaboration with the Matanzas, Cuba artist collective El Almacén, involving over thirty Cuban folkloric and classical musicians and film crew.


Eisenstadt is a longtime researcher in African and Diaspora music traditions, including multi-month research trips to Gambia and Senegal studying Mandinka and Wolof music (2002-2003, 2007), and numerous trips to Cuba and Brazil since 2013. He has been Omo Aña since 2017, sworn to Orlando Alvarez’s drum Aña Bi Ekun Laye in Matanzas, Cuba. He plays for ceremonial drummings regularly in the New York area.