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Jazz Innovators with New Orleans Roots

July 30, 2018

Legendary sax man Donald Harrison, Sr. and trumpeter Christian Scott are the award winning and Grammy nominated son and grandson of Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. and member of New Orleans first family of art and culture. Both born in New Orleans, they are high caliber musicians known for their innovations in the genre of Jazz.

 

Donald Harrison, Jr. (1960- ), composer and saxophonist created the “Nouveau Swing”, a style of jazz that merges the genres of R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul, and Rock. Harrison, heavily influenced by Afro-New Orleans traditional music, his critically acclaimed albums, Indian Blues (1991) and Spirits of Congo Square (2000) combine his historic cultural music form with jazz. Harrison performs and produces in this genre with his group, The New Sounds of Mardi Gras, which was established in 2001. His group, The Donald Harrison Electric Band has recorded a number of radio hits that have been in the top ten of Billboard magazine’s music charts. Harrison has performed and recorded with a number of key figures in Jazz, R & B, Funk, Classical and other music genres: Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, The Cookers, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Lena Horne, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Eddie Palmieri, Jennifer Holiday, Dr. John, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, McCoy Tyner, and Dr. L.

 

A survivor of Hurricane Katrina, Harrison was featured in acclaimed Director, Spike Lee’s HBO documentary, When the Levees Broke and was a character consultant an appeared as himself on HBO’s series, Treme. As a composer, Harrison co-wrote the soundtrack for the feature film, Rachel Getting Married, directed by Academy Award winning Director, Jonathan Demme. In 2015, Harrison started his exploration in classical orchestral composition in his work, Congo Square Part I, which was performed by The Moscow Symphony Orchestra in 2016.

 

A long-term music educator, Harrison co-founded and was Artistic Director of the Tipitina’s Intern Program. He also founded The New Jazz School educating students ages thirteen to eighteen in the genres of jazz, soul, funk, as well as scholarship in the areas of history, music theory, harmony, and composition. He has nurtured numerous young musicians over the years, including his nephew, trumpeter Christian Scott.

 

Christian Scott (1983- ), also known as Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, is a two-time Edison Award winning and Grammy Award nominated trumpeter, composer, and producer. His musical education began under the direction of his uncle, Donald Harrison, Jr. when he was thirteen years old. He graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) in 2001 and received a scholarship to attend his uncle’s alma mater the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 

As a jazz innovator, Scott developed the harmonic convention “forecasting cell” and the un-voiced tone of playing, the “whisper technique.” Additionally, Scott is the originator of the genre blind musical form, “Stretch Music” that allows jazz to encompass many other musical forms, languages, and cultural influences. He created interactive music player, The Stretch Music App and won the Jazz FM Innovator of the Year award in 2016.

 

Since graduating from NOCCA in 2001, Scot has released eleven critically acclaimed studio recordings and two live albums. He launched the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first known jazz recording in 1917 with a trilogy of studio albums titled, The Centennial Trilogy. Like his uncle, Scott composes scores for films, including award nominated and winning films, Samaria and The Roe Effect, created and directed by his twin brother, Kiel Adrian Scott.

 

More information on New Orleans first family of art and culture can be found in the papers of Harrison Family.

 

Images from the Donald Harrison, Sr. Family Papers. Images from Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission.

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