Donald Harrison Leads Berklee Student Quartet May 20-22

By
Nick Balkin
May 8, 2014
Donald Harrison's Berklee Quartet. From left: Osmar Okuma, bass (Peru); Santiago Bosch, piano (Venezuela); Donald Harrison, alto saxophone (New Orleans); and Darryl Staves, drums (New Orleans).
Kelly Davidson

Masters on the Road series—featuring alumni master musicians who return to campus to teach, and then lead a touring ensemble—continues as New Orleans saxophone great Donald Harrison teams with a student quartet for a trio of shows later this month. The group will perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, New York (May 20)—a show that will be live streamed—the Falcon, Marlboro, New York (May 21), and the Side Door, Old Lyme, Connecticut (May 22).

Donald Harrison's Berklee Quartet includes Osmar Okuma, bass (Peru); Santiago Bosch, piano (Venezuela); and Darryl Staves, drums (New Orleans). Faculty saxophonist Jim Odgren (Gary Burton, Hiromi) selected the students by audition, and then rehearsed them in Harrison's chosen repertoire throughout the semester. Harrison visited at mid-semester to fine-tune the group with Odgren.

This is the second edition of the Masters on the Road program. In last year's inaugural campaign, jazz pianist and 1985 Berklee alumnus Cyrus Chestnut performed with a student sextet at Dizzy's and the DC Jazz Festival.

A New Orleans-born traditionalist, modern jazz trendsetter, former Jazz Messenger, nurturer of young talent, composer, bandleader and alto saxophonist Donald Harrison ’81 is a complete musician and entertainer. A kind of Crescent City renaissance man, Harrison has made sounds as diverse as Nouveau Swing, traditional jazz, hip-hop, Mardi Gras, and even classical music, his very own.

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.