Donald Harrison – Nouveau Swing (1997)

FrontCover1Harrison began his professional career in music playing with Doc Paulin’s New Orleans Brass Band at the age of 16. Three years later he was playing in NY with Roy Haynes at 19 . Haarison and went on to play with Jack McDuff, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Lena Horne, Miles Davis, Tony Williams, and Don Pullen in the 1980s. He also played with the re-formed Headhunters band in the 1990s. In 1991 he recorded “Indian Blues,” which captured the sound and culture of Congo Square’s off shoot culture in a jazz context. In 1994 Harrison created a new style of jazz called “Nouveau Swing”, which merges the swing beat with many of today’s popular funk and soul dance styles of music. Presently, Harrison tours leading his own groups, is a member of a trio with Ron Carter, and Billy Cobham super trio, is a member of The Cookers, and play’s with The Headhunter’s. On television Harrison was featured in Spike Lee’s HBO documentary, When the Levees Broke, and has appeared as himself in 11 episodes of HBO’s Treme where the characters Albert and Delmond Lambreaux are based on aspects of his life and the innovative jazz music he created. Another important aspect of Harrison is his work as a band leader who nurtured many young musicians into becoming band leaders. This work led to him becoming an educator at The Tipitina’s Foundation where he helps many more students. Harrison is also a Big Chief in Afro-New Orleans culture an offshoot culture of the famous Congo Square where Africans played drums in the 1700’s and 1800’s. He participates in costume making, drumming, singing. (by

DonaldHarrisonOn his Impulse! Records debut, Donald Harrison mixes his usual straight-ahead work with rhythmic elements from tropical climates. Albert Wonsey plays appropriate piano on all tracks, though Harrison employs two different rhythm sections, Christian McBride and Carl Allen for the more conventional tunes and Ruben Rogers and Dion Parson for the others. The others include “Bob Marley,” twhich borrows its rhythmic feel from such later Marley songs as “Exodus”; “Little Flowers,” which also has a Caribbean lilt; “Septembro,” the requisite samba; and “Duck’s Groove,” the requisite New Orleans second-line number. The concept is slight and inconsistently applied, as if Harrison was looking for something distinctive, but not too challenging. As ever, he is a proficient alto player with a comfortable retro style. But one might have expected more from producer Tommy LiPuma, who is usually able to make things lively even if not impressive, and one certainly hoped for more from Harrison, who is too old to be a young turk yet still shows no signs of mature mastery. (by William Ruhlmann)


Carl Allen (drums on 01., 03. – 05., 08., 10. + 13.)
Donald Harrison (saxophone)
Christian McBride (bass on 01., 03., 05. – 08., 10.)
Dion Parson (drums on 02., 04., 09. + 12.)
Reuben Rogers (bass on 02., 04., 09., 11. – 13.)
Anthony Wonsey (piano)

01. Nouveau Swing (Harrison) 5.36
02. Bob Marley (Harrison) 5.58
03. Come Back Jack (Nocenteli) 5.09
04. Little Flowers (Harrison) 6.13
05. Eighty-One (Davis/Carter) 5.26
06. Sincerely Yours (Harrison) 6.38
07. Septembro (Lins/Peranzzetta) 5.00
08. One Of A Kind (Harrison) 3.28
09. New Hope (Harrison) 7.18
10. Christopher Jr. (Harrison) 5.01
11. South Side People (Harrison) 1.10
12. Dance Hall (Harrison) 6.42
13. Duck’s Groove (Harrison) 0.53
14. Amazing Grace )Traditional) 0.50


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