NEA Jazz Master saxophonist Big Chief Donald Harrison, Jr. is known for his hard-swinging improvisational style and creating the “Afro-New Orleans,” “Quantum Improvisation,” and “Nouveau Swing,” styles of jazz. The latter being his blend of modern jazz with funk, R&B, hip-hop, rock, and soul music.
Harrison founded the Congo Square Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group. His cultural group keeps the culture alive of Congo Square where people of African descent practiced their native culture.
He mentored world-renowned musicians including Jon Batiste, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Trombone Shorty, The Notorious BIG, and Esperanza Spaulding.
During his high school years, he started playing professionally and has performed or recorded with over two hundred master innovators, including Ron Carter, Miles Davis, Lena Horne, Eddie Palmieri, and the Notorious BIG. Harrison also performs traditional New Orleans jazz and hip-hop and composes orchestral classical music.
Harrison appeared on film and television in Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, Luke Cage, and David Simon’s HBO Drama Treme. Mr. Simon and Harrison developed two characters in Treme to tell stories of how Harrison developed his innovative music.
In 2022, Harrison will explore his omniverse music concept and complete software for his new patented music recording invention.
Check out what musicians say about Harrison
“My Goat” Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
“Genius” Eddie Palmieri
“One of the greatest saxophonists in the world.” Fred Wesley
“The Charlie Parker of our times.”