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Donald Harrison: Music


(Big Chief Donald Harrison)
by: Donald Harrison and Victoria Harrison

                                                         "DAT'S JAZZ" 

                                           by: Donald Harrison and Victoria Harrison

New Orleans born jazz saxophonist  Donald  Harrison  continues  his trendsetting ways on his new composition, “Dat’s Jazz,”  which was composed with his daughter,  Victoria  Harrison.   This  project  is  his  most ambitious acoustic jazz exploration of nouveau swing, the innovative and influential style of jazz he created in the late 80’s. 

When you listen to  “Dat’s Jazz,”  you hear Harrison adapting his experiences playing with jazz masters of every era to form the foundation of how he shapes his new jazz concepts.  Harrison’s sound on,  “Dat’s Jazz,” includes strains of every era of jazz which he merges into a unique blend of swinging  jazz, hip-hop, soul, classical,  funk and R&B.

Harrison has combined his abilities to write and rap as a MC, recite spoken word, sing vocalese, dance, scat and play saxophone from a jazz and universal perspective on “Dat’s Jazz.”   He again moves center stage as  one of the most innovative jazz voices by using  his  cutting  edge  ideas  on  saxophone  to  take  rhythm,  technique, melody and harmony to new places.   The things  Harrison can do on saxophone are great, but what makes this song unique is how  Harrison  used his multifaceted talents along with his exceptional jazz sax playing to create an accessible jazz vehicle. This  song  brings  jazz  back  to people music, yet still gives instrumentalist freedom of expression and pushes them to improvise modern jazz at their highest level.

The musicians on “Dat’s Jazz” are all from New Orleans, the birth place of jazz.  Joe Dyson, the drummer, deftly merges playing a one handed  roll  figure  on  his  snare  drum, a funk bass drum and a hi-hat figure on all four beats against a swinging ride cymbal to produce a  tapestry  of layers  in his drum patterns.  Bassist Max Moran adds funky ostinatos and incorporates Harrison idea of walking a bass line  in multiple meters to help the group make effortless transitions throughout their musical landscapes.  The  subtle  chord changes that give the piece its mellow yet hip edge are contributed by pianist  Shea  Pierre  as  he  floats,  glides  and  stabs in all the right places throughout the piece. Harrison rounds out the group with sax ideas culled from  Sydney Bechet, to  Bird, to Trane to infinity.  Listen for his presentation of ideas amassed while playing with such greats as  Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Miles Davis, Lena Horne,  Billy Cobham,  The Cookers,  The Headhunters, Doc Paulin’s Brass Band, Jack McDuff, Louis Armstrong’s former  sidemen  drummer  Barrett Deems and bassist Arvel Shaw and The Duke’s Men, a band  of  former  Duke  Ellington  sidemen  in  which  he  played  the role of Johnny Hodges. Those  experiences  are  some  of the main components which led to Harrison’s development of his new concepts of playing across  time  and  harmony  as  well as  playing  through  time and space while still being connected to the history of jazz music.

Although  “Dat’s  Jazz”  is  a  musical  experience with intricate ideas,  it still allows the musicians and  listeners freedom to either bob their heads,  to  sit  back  and  groove  or  to ponder what is going on intellectually.  This song is just another example in the long history of jazz where an artist honestly reports his perspective on the tenor of his times through his music.


Personell: Donald Harrison - alto sax, lead & background vocals, spoken word and rapping

               Joe Dyson - drums

               Max Moran -  bass

               Shea Pierre - piano

Recorded and mixed by Tim Stambaugh at Word Of Mouth Recording Studio on January 18, 2016 in New Orleans, LA

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