Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison, Jr., also known as Big Chief Donald Harrison, Congo Nation, is a jazz saxophonist, composer, educator, and musician who lives in New Orleans and New York City. Harrison was born in New Orleans, June 23, 1960. He is the son and great-grandson of Donald Harrison, Sr. who was a legend New Orleans folklorist. He studied with Ellis Marsalis and began his education at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. He attended the Berklee College of Music after he graduated. Although he started playing professionally in high school, Harrison was recognized for his tone on alto and tenor trumpets. He played in bands such as Jack McDuff, Roy Haynes, Jack McDuff and, most famously, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. With Terence Blanchard, Harrison became Branford Marsalis’ musical partner. They began recording as the Terence Blanchard/Donald Harrison Quintet. They released five albums between 1983 and 1988, including New York Second Line (1984), Discernment (1986), both recorded for Concord and Nascence (1986), Crystal Stair (87), and Black Pearl (1988), for Columbia. Harrison recorded sessions with jazz vanguard musicians while he was with the unit. In 1985, he performed on avant The Sixth Sense (Black Saint), which featured Bobby Battle, Olu Dara and Fred Hopkins. He also recorded with Don Pullen in 1986. 1989 saw the end of the Quintet. Harrison was a bandleader and released the Hard Bop Blakey tribute album For Art’s Sake in 1991 on Candid. He then followed it up with the historical Indian Blues. Harrison was engaged on a large-scale for the first time in his New Orleans musical heritage. It merged Mardis Gras Indian songs and chanting (courtesy of the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians, with his father singing), to funky Crescent City rhythms

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