Donald Harrison Live on NPR from Berklee on New Year's Eve

By
Allen Bush
December 4, 2013
Donald Harrison '81

First Night Boston, Berklee College of Music, and 89.7 WGBH present the Donald Harrison Quintet, performing at the Berklee Performance Center on New Year's Eve to kick off NPR’s annual worldwide jazz broadcast, Toast of the Nation. The concert on Tuesday, December 31 is a centerpiece of this year's First Night Boston festival and marks the 10th anniversary of Harrison’s first NPR Toast of the Nation concert broadcast live from Berklee. Joining Harrison on New Year’s Eve will be his longtime bandmates Detroit Brooks (guitar), Zaccai Curtis (piano), Max Moran ’10 (bass), and Joe Dyson ’11 (drums).

Admission is $10 by purchase of a First Night button. The Donald Harrison Quintet performs at 8:45 p.m. (the broadcast on NPR and NPRmusic.org will begin at 9:00 p.m. EST). Eric Jackson, host of WGBH’s Eric in the Evening, will be the Boston broadcast’s master of ceremonies. Berklee alumnus Harrison’s performance will be re-aired on NPR later that evening for listeners who missed the first broadcast.

Donald Harrison ’81 is a New Orleans-born traditionalist, a modern jazz trendsetter, a former Jazz Messenger, a nurturer of young talent, a Big Chief of Afro-New Orleans culture, a Berklee alumnus, a composer, a bandleader and an alto saxophonist. A complete musician and entertainer and a kind of Crescent City Renaissance man, Harrison’s music incorporates the sounds of nouveau swing, traditional jazz, hip-hop, Mardi Gras, and even classical music. He has composed a film score for Jonathan Demme (Rachel’s Getting Married), appeared in and consulted on HBO’s Tremé, co-led a group with Terence Blanchard, and performed with a musical who’s who that includes Art Blakey, Dr. John, Digable Planets, Roy Haynes, Lena Horne, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Miles Davis, and Spike Lee, to name just a few. Harrison is the director of the Tipitina’s Intern Program and an artist in residence at Tulane University. His most recent recordings are This Is Jazz: Live at the Blue Note, with Billy Cobham and Ron Carter, and New Orleans Gumbo, with Dr. John.

New Year's Eve 2013 marks the tenth consecutive year that Berklee, 89.7 WGBH, and NPR have collaborated to kick-off the live-jazz-based holiday celebration Toast of the Nation. It is the sixth year that First Night Boston has been a partner as well. Heard on more than 200 NPR affiliate stations, NPR Worldwide, NPRmusic.org, and Sirius XM Radio, Toast of the Nation begins in Boston and will move across the country, with the Wynton Marsalis Septet live from Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and performances for each time zone, from east to west, as the night moves on.

For a full schedule of performances, and to find local participating NPR stations, please visit wbgo.org/toast. The concert can be heard in the Boston area on 89.7 WGBH FM, and on wgbh.org.

It will also be audio archived after the fact on NPRmusic.org. Toast of the Nation is produced for NPR by WBGO-FM, Newark. Becca Pulliam is the program’s senior producer; WGBH Radio produces the Boston portion of the broadcast and Gary Mott is executive producer for WGBH.