After touring with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, then with percussionist Roy Haynes, saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. fronted his own band with Terence Blanchard. During those heady years, Donald never lost sight of his New Orleans heritage and on this session (recorded in 2000), he wanted to bring the sounds of the tradition up to date with modern twists on the old rhythms and inventive arrangements of familiar jazz tunes. This CD puts the back beat into tunes by Freddie Hubbard and Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Roy Haynes & Steve Swallow and Donald Harrison himself and presents the rare opportunity to hear three of New Orleans' great contemporary trumpeters head-to-head-to-head, (Nicholas Payton, Marlon Jordan and Jamil Sharif).
Altoist Donald Harrison Jr. has gathered a host of native-born talent to explore that elusive wonder called the "New Orleans sound." Trumpeters Nicholas Payton
, Marlon Jordan
, and Jamil Sharif, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis
, and clarinetist Louis Ford join Harrison in a jubilant romp through a wide variety of material. With Adonis Rose's drums and Elton Heron's bass providing the dancing "second-line" rhythm (think immediately of Ed Blackwell
) that propels everything forward with a beat and a bounce, the horn players exult on a number of originals, as well as Sonny Rollins
's "Oleo" and Thelonious Monk
's "Bye-Ya." Historically, Conga Square was the place where slaves were permitted to play drums and keep their African heritage alive. So it is that the New Orleans sound and its deep rhythmic structures count Conga Square as an important focal point. So it is also that Donald Harrison and his New Orleans crew bristle with a joyous, rhythmic force. --Wally Shoup