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NEA Jazz Master Donald Harrison Celebrates His Passion for Diverse Music and New Orleans I LISTEN-to-Podcast

Grammy Winner Jon Batiste Praises Mentor Jazz Saxophonist Donald Harrison

*In this episode of Underground Magnolia Podcast, we delve into the remarkable journey of renowned jazz saxophonist, Donald Harrison, often hailed as the “father of Omniverse music.”

Born and raised in New Orleans, Harrison’s musical prowess transcends eras, genres, and boundaries.

Key Highlights:

Versatility Across Jazz Eras and Beyond:

  • Harrison’s artistry extends far beyond traditional jazz. He seamlessly weaves soul, funk, and even classical orchestral compositions into his repertoire.
  • Having shared the stage with luminaries like Art Blakey, Eddie Palmieri, Dr. John, Miles Davis, Ron Carter, and Chuck Loeb, Harrison’s musical lineage is rich and diverse.
Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Jazz Master Recognition:

  • In 2022, the National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon him the prestigious title of Jazz Master, a testament to his immense contributions to the genre.

Mentoring the Next Generation:

  • Harrison’s influence extends beyond performance. Artists such as Christian Scott, Jon Batiste, Esperanza Spalding, Trombone Shorty, and even The Notorious B.I.G. have benefited from his mentorship.

Musical Exploration Onstage:

  • Recently, Harrison has been captivating audiences with a fusion of sounds. His performances seamlessly blend traditional and contemporary jazz, swing, hip-hop, trap, soul, and more.
Big Chief Donald Harrison’s “Congo Square Suite” release captures the sounds of New Orleans. Congo Square is an actual place in the city (now part of Louis Armstrong Park) where slaves would gather to play music and drums and dance. These rituals are considered to be the early development of jazz.

Roots and Inspiration:

  • Discover how a historical New Orleans slave gathering place informs Harrison’s music, connecting him to the city’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Uncover the story behind his moniker, Big Chief Donald Harrison.

Join us as we explore the life, legacy, and boundless creativity of this jazz icon. Tune in to Underground Magnolia Podcast for an unforgettable musical journey.

For more on the Underground Magnolia Podcast and to listen to other episodes hosted by award-winning journalist Desiréia Valteau, go here.

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