SEPTEMBER 13, 2012
Donald Harrison Returns to NYC
NOLA Jazz Standard Bearer To Debut Quantum Leap At Jazz Standard
Donald Harrison, one of our favorite New Orleans jazz artists returns to New York City next week to promote his new album, Quantum Leap with an extended engagement at the Jazz Standard.
Full details are in the official press release, reprinted below.
Don't miss this one!
The New Orleans saxophonist/composer Donald Harrison will be releasing his newest album, Quantum Leap during his five day engagement with his quintet at Jazz Standard from September 19th through the 23rd. New Orleans pianist Davell Crawford will be the special guest for these shows.
Donald Harrison's genre-bending new album "Quantum Leap", establishes him as a master of every dimension of the jazz trajectory, from early jazz to Bebop, and beyond. Even before its release, "Quantum Leap" is generating buzz from some of the most cutting-edge jazz artists on the scene --
Grammy-nominated trumpeter, composer, bandleader - and longtime collaborator with Charles Mingus - Jack Walrath, writes in the album's liner notes that Harrison is "one of the most significant voices of the 'Young Lions' of jazz". Walrath goes on to praise "Quantum Leap" as " an intertwined journey inward to the roots of jazz and outward to its furthest frontiers. This jazz as it was envisioned to be? bluesy, original and forward-looking...always swinging and constantly surprising."
Grammy-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch hails Harrison's combo for "blazing a new trail" with this recording, creating music of "real innovation grounded in the swing and the personal vision of one of the music's true masters."
The buzz about "Quantum Leap" shouldn't be a surprise; Donald Harrison is a musical category unto himself. The only internationally-known jazz musician who is a member of the the Afro-New Orleans secret society known as Mardi Gras Indians, he is uniquely qualified to represent the link between traditional and cutting-edge jazz. Born in New Orleans in 1960, Donald Harrison was raised in the African-influenced culture of brass bands, parades and rituals by his father, the Big Chief of four Afro-New Orleans cultural groups; then, just out of music school, he started working with drummer Roy Haynes. Soon after was a member of the legendary ensemble of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Harrison went on to work with an A list of jazz giants, including Lena Horne, Miles Davis, Terence Blanchard, Latin Jazz great Eddie Palmieri, Digable Planets, the Head Hunters, Larry Coryell and many others.
Throughout Harrison's career, he has balanced being in the vanguard of modern jazz while continuing his participation in New Orleans' culture. His critically-acclaimed 1993 album, "Indian Blues" combined jazz and "Mardi Gras Indians'' traditional music. Now, as Big Chief of the Congo Square Nation, Donald Harrison summons the potency of his Afro-New Orleans heritage and his formidable experience in contemporary jazz to reconfigure musical boundaries on "Quantum Leap". Harrison describes his new project as "the crossroads where jazz tradition meets soul, science and today's dance music. It's jazz for mind, body and soul. I call it: roots to infinity. I use Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and even Louis Armstrong as my role models. They learned from the masters before them, and extended that. I think it's important to know as much as you can before trying to extend the tradition. I want the whole spectrum of the music in what I present, from when it started here in New Orleans."
Harrison's gifted ensemble follows him over the edge, and back. His quintet and guest artist - all but one of whom are from New Orleans - represent the continuing connection of New Orleans music to the jazz tradition. Special guest, Davell Crawford - aka the "Prince of New Orleans," is an electrifying pianist and singer who exemplifies New Orleans roots music. Grandson of the legendary James "Sugarboy" Crawford, pioneer of New Orleans R&B in the 1950s, Devall Crawford started playing piano at age seven and first toured Europe in his early teens. In 1998 he won the Big Easy Music Award for Best Gospel Artist, which launched his career to new levels and gained him an even stronger following of fans. Guitarist/banjo player Detroit Brooks began his career touring with his family which includes his legendary sister Juanita Brooks, of "Juanita's Gospel Express," and his musician father, George A. Brooks. He plays frequently with Dr Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band. Drummer Joe Dyson and bassist Max Moran are both former students of Harrison. Dyson - who contributed a beautiful composition to Quantum Leap - began playing drums in a family band at their church even before he attended kindergarten. He has received numerous scholarships, including a Presidential Scholarship to Berklee College of Music and has played and recorded with greats Alvin Batiste, Herlin Riley and Chico Hamilton. The bassist in the group, Max Moran apprenticed with legendary clarinetist and pioneer jazz educator Alvin Batiste while still a teen. Now Max joins New Orleans stars Victor Goines, Herlin Riley, Sean Jones and Delfeayo Marsalis on a regular basis. Zaccai Curtis, the pianist of the group, is also from a musical family. A graduate of New England Conservatory Zaccai now lives in New York. He performs with artists such as: Ralph Peterson, Brian Lynch, Ray Vega, Antoine Roney, Wallace Roney, Cindy Blackman, and Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band. He is a winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer's competition, and for several years Zaccai and his quartet were selected by the U.S. State Department as representatives for the American Music Abroad (Jazz Ambassadors) program.
In the course of Harrison's career, he has discovered and nurtured some of the finest young jazz musicians - his protégés include trumpeter Christian Scott, Mark Whitfield, Dwayne Burno, Christian McBride and Cyrus Chestnut, as well as rap icon The Notorious BIG. As a spokesperson for jazz and for New Orleans culture, Donald Harrison is committed to sharing his deep knowledge of jazz with the communities in which he works; he is especially encouraging to young people - he has run jazz camps, and is now the artistic director of the jazz program at the Tipitina's Foundation in New Orleans.