Veteran New Orleans-born jazz giant Donald Harrison is building both the future of his city and an undeniable legacy. Harrison can at any time be found hard at work mentoring the minds of young musicians or darting from city to city on a seemingly endless whirlwind tour of performance dates across the globe. To an arguably greater extent than many of his fellow notable native New Orleanian jazz cohorts, Harrison maintains a visible presence in his hometown grooming the talents of the next generation of jazz musicians.
A former sideman of Art Blakey--one of dozens more legendary jazzmen with whom Harrison has played--Harrison continues Blakey's tradition of immersing jazz music's most promising youth talent in hands on experience with the demanding world of professional jazz performance, recording and touring.
While continuing his work as a teacher of jazz music, Harrison continues his diligent commitment to the proper presentation of jazz music infused with nuances of his signature Nouveau Swing jazz style which merges swing with nuances of New Orleans roots music of Congo Square, Afro Caribbean rhythms, R&B and popular music.
Harrison got his credentials for New Orleans roots culture honestly as he has been the Big Chief of Congo Square since 1999. He leads The Congo Nation New Orleans Cultural Group every Mardi Gras just like his legendary father Big Chief Donald Harrison did for over 4 decades. The Congo Nation keeps alive traditional culture New Orleans that incorporates African style rituals, call and response chants, and drumming. Harrison like the great drummer Baby Dodds traces his roots back to drummers in Congo Square.
As Harrison continues his astounding sonic journey through nearly every recognized style and genre from among the world's available musical palette, he's brought along for the ride and very proudly introduces bassist Max Moran, keyboardist Conun Poppas, drummer Joseph Dyson, Jr. and pianist Victor Gould.
An incredible accolade to earn from a musician of Harrison's stature, Moran, Poppas, Dyson and Gould have garnered their teacher's respect and admiration as fast emerging musical talents. The growth curve of these young musicians is highly accelerated. They learn instantaneously. If I give them something to go home and practice they usually get it as I am instructing them," boasts Harrison.
Harrison has deemed this youthful quartet of jazzmen worthy of taking their music study beyond the classroom. In 2007, he began bringing the group into the studio and hiring them to back him on numerous performance dates. 2008 will witness Harrison, Moran, Poppas, Dyson and Gould continue to gel into an exciting quintet capable of performing jazz music at an extraordinary level of proficiency while keeping the audience engaged in their lively and entertaining presentation of the music.
Look for their new recording, The Chosen,
on Nagel-Heyer records.
FILM APPEARANCES & ACCOLADES Look for Donald's acting debut in Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme's new film, Rachel Getting Married." Harrison also co-wrote the soundtrack for the film which stars Anne Hathaway of, The Devil Wears Prada" and the upcoming, Get Smart." Other stars include Debra Winger, Bill Irwin, and Anna Deavere Smith. Harrison is also slated to act in and compose music for a new TV series to be announced shortly.
2007: Jazziz Magazine Person of the Year
2007: Arts Council of New Orleans Community Arts Award Recipient
2008: Big Easy Music Awards Ambassador of Music
COMING SOON: 3D: Volume III On this highly anticipated release, Harrison's musical journey finds him collaborating with native New Orleans producers Young Titan Productions and Deezle, who recently contributed to hip hop star Lil Wayne's latest Tha Carter III. On 3D, Harrison injects elements of hip hop and other popular music genres into his sound, and even displays his own lyrical ability as an emcee.