Here's our latest excerpt from our friends at 504 Magazine, a lengthy profile of Donald Harrison by Shirley A. Jones, with photos by Gerald Herbert. Read the entire article in Vol 1 #6, "The Music Education Issue"
The passages below focus on Harrison's efforts in the field of music education.
Today, though Harrison’s schedule seemly allows little time to sleep or eat, he focuses on his responsibilities as Big Chief and his Director position at the Tipitina’s Foundation. In his position since 2003, he also manages to perform and record while serving as the Director of the Internship Program. Donald instructs area youth who have displayed an interest in pursuing music as a career choice. Once a week, he meets with young boys and girls in his after school program, where he teaches and shares his decades of “on and off the gig experience.”
Under Harrison’s helm as Artistic Director of Internship at Tipatina’s, he was able to partner with an area school, O. Perry Walker High School’s band group, known as the Chosen Ones; together they “made it happen.” The two organizations partnered sending a total of 16 young students to Ishinomaki and Kesennuma, Japan. The music students traveled to Tsunami-Ravaged Japan during the Fall of 2012. 504Mag honors, respects and heralds the work of Donald Harrison, Jr. and the Tipitina’s Foundation.
Further, to his credit, Donald Harrison, Jr. the musician/educator has taught an impressive list of young upstarts which includes trumpeter Christian Scott, trombonist/singer Trombone Shorty, guitarist Josh Connelly and saxophonists Louis Fouche, Chris Royal and Aaron Fletcher. His working groups have proven to be a quiet incubator for jazz band leaders such as guitarist Mark Whitfield, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and bassist(s) Christian McBride, Dwayne Burno, and Esperanza Spaulding - all of whom spent time playing with Harrison, Jr.
As for the master musician Donald Harrison, New Orleans jazz brings the joy of life in this unique City to the rest of the world. Harrison's contribution to the multiplicity universal language of music includes his being dubbed the King of Nouveau Swing which merges the swing beat with many of today's popular dance styles of music and Smooth Jazz Styles. In 1993, Harrison signed with GRP/Impulse. His first album for that label was Nouveau Swing, the album gave Harrison his nickname "the King of Nouveau Swing." Donald's music incorporates traditional yet current genres of music. His current band, "The New Sounds of Mardi Gras" has recorded two CDs and was started four years ago. Harrison, writes, plays and produces music from classic Jazz to hip hop, as well as smooth jazz, and R&B styles. Alongside his many accolades, benevolence should most definitely be added to Harrison's Bio, in that he has unselfishly nurtured a number of young musicians including the young Grammy-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott (Harrison's nephew), as well as Mark Whitfield, Cyrus Chestnut, Christian McBride, and The Notorious B.I.G.