2022 NEA Jazz Master Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. is a musician/composer who dedicated his life to mastering every era of jazz, soul, funk, and composing orchestral classical music. According to geniuses Eddie Palmieri and Mike Clark, he is a genius who has mastered many styles of music. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music in 2021. He appeared as an actor in nine episodes of “Treme,” where director David Simon created two characters to portray how Harrison innovated music, director Johnathon Demme’s film “Rachel Getting Married,” Spike Lee’s “When The Levees Broke,” and Marvel’s “Luke Cage.”

Dazzle at Baur’s presents Big Chief Donald Harrison | June 16 | Two Sets: 7 pm & 9:30 pm

Harrison is the recognized Big Chief of Congo Square in Afro-New Orleans culture and a Chief in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa.

Harrison honed his craft playing with Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, Eddie Palmieri, Dr. John, Lena Horne, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Chuck Loeb, The Headhunters, hip-hop greats Digable Planets, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, The Notorious BIG, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and over 200 jazz masters. Harrison mentored artists as diverse as Christian Scott, Johnathon Batiste, Esperanza Spaulding, Trombone Shorty, and The Notorious Big.

He has innovated three influential jazz styles. In 1979, at nineteen, Harrison brought a modern jazz twist to New Orleans’s second-line music. By the mid-80s, he created “Nouveau Swing,” a concept that blends classic jazz with hip-hop, funk, and soul music. In the ’90s, Harrison began exploring a new quantum improvisation concept with genius theoretical physicist and saxophonist Stephon Alexander in 2000. The premise of seeing the correlations between music and quantum physics is the root of the idea.

In 2023, Harrison’s performance and recordings will explore music from his Quantum Improvisation concept. Harrison is many things, but he and his band play good time music for the mind, body, and soul.

Donald Harrison – alto saxophone

Dan Kaufman – piano

Nori Naraoka – bass

Brian Richburg – drums

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