Home Reviews Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. releases CONGO SUARE SUITE (TRR Collective)

Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. releases CONGO SUARE SUITE (TRR Collective)

“NEA Jazz Master BIG CHIEF DONALD HARRISON’S recording CONGO SQUARE SUITE, “Movements l, ll and lll is a musical and cultural perspective place into a classical orchestral, tribal and jazz paradigm. These elements include over forty years of working with hundreds of master innovators from every jazz era, many other African diasporic musical styles, and European classical music. Congo Square Suite is a unique idea of epic musical proportions. It marks the only recording that displays an artist’s experience as an Afro New Orleans Big Chief and master musician composing, orchestrating and performing his own production. Its concept as a series of musical multiverses containing the same elements was the natural evolution for the artist. Harrison furthered the idea when the correlation between music and quantum theory. With Congo Square Suite, Harrison shows that his talent, experience and quantum realizations are the keys to understanding his intrinsic portals.”
Is a chant composed by Donald Harrison’s of drums and voices. The performances exemplify the New Orleans off shoot culture, rhythms and music forged in Congo Square. Harrison integrates elements of ancient African music kept alive in Congo Square with ideas he learned listening to tribal African field recordings.
Harrison composed and orchestrated Movement ll as a classical work for a full orchestra. He recorded this version with The Moscow Symphony Orchestra in 2015. The piece incorporates Congo Square off shoot culture music into a classical realm that utilizes secret chants and drum patterns. The movement creates a unique fabric of classical music. It unifies the composers experiences as the current Big Chief of Congo Square and his participation in Afro-New Orleans culture for sixty plus years into a classical orchestral music experience of epic proportions.
The Movement connects ideas from Movements l and ll with Harrison’s jazz quartet and The Moscow Symphony Orchestra to create a hybrid Afro-New Orleans modern jazz orchestral sound. The band melds a perfect symmetrical feeling and tapestry with the orchestra. The drummer Joe Dyson and bassist Max Moran are members of The Congo Square Nation which helps better understand Harrison’s vision. Tyson’s experiences playing percussion under Harrisons help him keep the spirit of Congo Square while adding modern jazz touches. Bassist Max Moran’s melodious thunder resounds with a mighty groove. His suggestions propel the band while keeping everything in the pocket with a fine-tuned balance. Pianist Zaccai Curtis uses his understanding and experiences to find new ways to accompany the band with rhythms, melodic intervention and harmonic extrapolations. Harrison’s vision shines clear and bright as a composer and instrumentalist in the movement. He shapes the overall concept with lines that spur new way to look at the construct of jazz, tribal and orchestral music fused. His use of what he calls suspended harmony add colors thought to be wrong into a logical place.
“A wonderful and wholly realized artistic and musical comcept! So rare these days and fun and exciting to listen to. So great to be able to hear the connections and variations as they unfold over the three movements. Everyone is playing deftly and carrying the spirit of CONGO SQUARE all the way through. Bravo. Thank you so much for sharing this major work.” – Gren Bendian, Professor of Music, William Paterson University, NJ.
“Donald Harrison is a genius!” – Eddie Palmieri
“A forward-thinking work.”- Mitch Glickman hosts Symphonic Jazz on KJazz Los Angeles
“Genius.” – Mike Clark, Master Drummer
Tomas Peña
A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Editor-in-Chief Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject. His writing appears on Latin Jazz Network; Chamber Music America magazine and numerous other publications.


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