The Donald Harrison Quintet to Headline the 46th Annual Lakeland Jazz Festival

click to enlarge The Donald Harrison Quintet to Headline the 46th Annual Lakeland Jazz Festival
Courtesy of Jim Wadsworth Productions
Founded by retired professor and music department Chair Charles M. Frank, Lakeland's Jazz Festival has been going strong for 46 years now.

Over the decades, some 30,000 middle and high school musicians from throughout the state have participated in the festival.

Organizers have just announced the details for this year’s festival, which takes place from March 16 to 18 at Lakeland Community College’s Dr. Wayne L. Rodehorst Performing Arts Center (D-Building).

The Donald Harrison Quintet [pictured] will headline the event. The New Orleans-based Harrison is the originator of the Nouveau Swing; his group performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 16.

Harrison initially began playing saxophone simply because his father wanted him to play the instrument.

"I played it for maybe a year in high school, and then I decided that I didn’t wanna play it anymore," he says. "And then when I was in high school in 9th grade, Grover Washington had a big hit called 'Mr. Magic,' so I remembered that I had a saxophone and started learning 'Mr. Magic.'"

From Washington, Harrison discovered Charlie Parker and has kept expanding his musical knowledge ever since. His albums draw from jazz, hip-hop and classical music.

"My parents had played so much music at home," he explains. "We were listening to James Brown, African music and what I guess you would call ethnic music from all over the world. We listened to Bach and Beethoven, Etta James, Charlie Pride, country music, everything. I was open to all of that stuff my whole life I didn’t know that you shouldn’t like all these styles until I went to elementary school and people were into maybe Michael Jackson and that was it."

Middle and high school performances will take place during the day on Saturday, March 17. That evening, music professors will perform as part of Madd for Tadd, an event celebrating the birthday of Cleveland composer Tadd Dameron.

The event will conclude at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, with a Big Band Matinee featuring the Lakeland Civic Jazz Orchestra and the Youngstown State University Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Quintet. Ticket prices vary. Consult the website for more details.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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