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Donald Harrison Quartet

May 10, 2019 @ 8:30 pm - 11:00 pm


The Donald Harrison Quartet will perform on Friday, May 10 at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $45.00.

Donald Harrison – alto sax
Zaccai Curtis – piano
Darryl Staves – drums
John Benitez – bass

Donald Harrison Jr. is a true Renaissance man who understands diverse genres of music and has the ability to mix them into innovative new forms. On his recent recording, “The Eclectic Jazz Revolution of Unity,” he demonstrates nonpareil multi-stylistic proficiency on the alto saxophone and a unique approach to his compositions and the culture he grew up participating in.

Harrison was born on June 23, 1960 to Donald and Herreast Harrison in New Orleans, Louisiana. They nurtured a love of music and culture by exposing him, at an early age, to the history of recorded jazz, soul, rumba, country, rock & roll, R&B, African, Indian and a myriad of other music genres. At sixteen Harrison decided to become a musician; he aspired to perform with many of the diverse music icons he had listened to and, ultimately, wanted to master each ones style. Years working to achieve stylistic proficiency combined with innate talents and life experiences enabled him to create some of the most innovative and influential jazz styles of the last four decades. At nineteen Harrison composed “New York Second-line,” an innovative concept that successfully merged the music and culture of a New Orleans Second-line into a modern jazz context. The recording piqued the jazz world’s interest in 1982 and became one of the biggest hits of the 80’s. His jazz second-line rhythm is played around the world and is a part of most drummers’ arsenal of beats.

. The open-minded artist continued to create innovative sounds, textures and approaches to harmony, technique and rhythm on the alto saxophone in every mainstream style or jazz, smooth jazz, rumba, hip-hop, jazz band, classical and Afro-Caribbean music. He also developed a unique approach to modern jazz fused with hip-hop in the 80’s, a modern jazz Afro-New Orleans style in 1990, a hybrid New Orleans Mardi Gras/hip-hop music style along with an acoustic jam band sound in 2003 and a swinging modern jazz sound a fan in Paris coined ‘nouveau swing” to explain how he merged the swing beat of modern jazz with soul, funk, hip-hop, reggae, rock & roll and R&B in 2004. The quantum jazz sound emerged in 2010. “I took harmony, rhythm and melody from the normal two-dimensional state to a four dimensional-state by opening all the possible avenues to move those elements around,” Harrison explained. In 2015 he recorded “Congo Square,” the first classical composition composed and orchestrated by a Big Chief initiated in Afro-New Orleans culture; the recording is featured on the “Eclectic Jazz Revolution of Unity.”

After nervously stepping on the bandstand at nineteen with Roy Haynes, Harrison has pursued many genres with much success and aplomb. He has performed with over three hundred masters, including some of the most important music icons. Eddie Palmieri said, “Harrison is the greatest alto player of these times.” Percussion master Bill Summers called him “the Charlie Parker of these times,’ and ‘ a master of many styles.’ “He embraces both old-school and cutting-edge music without contradiction…. But there’s something inscrutable about Mr. Harrison’s interpretation of swinging time, a mystery enabled by his own rhythmic mastery,” said Larry Blumenfeld of The Wall Street Journal.

Harrison was also a script consultant for David Simon’s HBO series, “Treme;” two characters were created to reflect the creation of his innovative music and other aspects of his life. He acted as himself in nine episodes and played his original music. In Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme’s movie, “Rachael Getting Married,” Harrison acted alongside actress Anne Hathaway and co-wrote the soundtrack. Years of experiences in the arts and music are being passed down to high school students through the Tipitina’s Internship Program where he has been Artistic Director for over a decade. Inspired by his mentors, Harrison also instructs from the bandstand and has taught or nurtured many young notable music professionals. Christian McBride, Jon Batiste, Mark Whitfield, The Notorious BIG, Joe Dyson and Christian Scott are just a few musicians who have benefited from his tutelage. Donald Harrison is a 21st Century Renaissance man working to bring people together through His relentless work to develop jazz fused with universal elements and lessons of the wider world. – Mary Spears-Harrison


May 10, 2019
8:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Event Category:


The Side Door Jazz Club
85 Lyme St
Old Lyme,
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