NEWARK, NJ: Children and their families are invited to listen, learn and discover jazz at WBGO’s award-winning, free Kids Jazz Concert Series, featuring saxophonist Donald Harrison on Saturday, April 14, at 12:30 pm at Cicely Tyson School Performing Arts Center, 35 Winans Street, East Orange, NJ. The concert series brings jazz culture and dynamic performances to young people throughout the year. Harrison’s program, Big Easy to Big Apple, will give young people a spirited look at New Orleans jazz; and don’t be surprised if Big Chief Harrison, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a Mardi Gras Indian, shows off a dance step or two. The concert is co-Sponsored by The High School Music Department of The Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts.
Born in New Orleans, Donald Harrison began playing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in his early twenties. He had already completed what most musicians would call a career when the influential band he co-led with fellow New Orleans native trumpeter Terence Blanchard broke up in 1989. But Harrison was only beginning. Choosing to work in a number of genres at once, Harrison has released a series of albums that are touchstones of contemporary New Orleans music, particularly the immensely important 1992 release “Indian Blues, “ in which he brought the Mardi Gras Indian music learned from his father, Donald Harrison Sr., into a vibrant contemporary jazz/R&B setting. Harrison continues to perform and record in traditional jazz settings with both acoustic and electric bands as well as what he calls Nouveau Swing, a roots amalgam merging acoustic jazz, Mardi Gras Indian Music, hip-hop, second line and reggae. Harrison also has been a potent influence on younger musicians, mentoring personalities as different as rapper Notorious BIG and whiz kid trumpeter Christian Scott. As the director of Tipitina’s Intern Program, he often works with musicians from that program as his band when performing. The 2012 Spring series, which kicked off on March 31 with harpist Brandee Younger at the Montclair Art Museum, continues with drummer Will Calhoun, April 21, at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Victoria Theater; and baritone saxophonist Claire Daly, April 28, at the Newark Museum.
The interactive, hour-long programs give young people opportunities to learn about the distinct qualities of jazz, and why it is a reflection of our community, nation, and world. Top jazz and blues artists produce programs tailor-made for young people, leaving time for further exploration of the music through Q&A sessions with the artists. In addition to the music, the event includes door prizes, a gift for each child and a fun-filled afternoon with other young jazz lovers.