When: Sat., Sept. 8 2012
DONALD HARRISON There are at least five Donald Harrisons. One is the inventor and undisputed “King of Nouveau Swing,” an alchemical mix of acoustic swing, modern R&B, reggae riddims and bossa beats. But the classic jazz gumbo of nouveau swing is just one facet of the swingin’ sax man’s musical schizophrenia. In another guise, Harrison played sideman with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Headhunters, going as hard bop as Blakey and as post-bop as Elton Dean. Woodshedding in various combos, this Harrison’s tight but restless alto goes places as spacey as Sun Ra. Still another Harrison got in on the hip-hop scene, mentoring a young Notorious B.I.G. Shape-shifting again, Harrison became the sultan of swank, topping the smooth jazz charts with “The Power of Cool.” But the Ur-Harrison, the one from which all others spring, is Big Chief Harrison of the Congo Nation. Under the Big Chief’s guidance, this Crescent City collective conjures the ghosts of Congo Square by wedding Mardi Gras Indian chants with sweaty R&B. Whatever guise Harrison takes, Afro-Indian Houngan, classical composer or silky smooth bandleader, he is sure to leave the assembly transfixed by the swing.