Known as "Duck" to his friends, Harrison, who inherited his father's position as Big Chief himself the son of a Big Chief, is not only a virtuoso on his instrument, but a key figure in the way 21st century jazz musicians think about sound and rhythm. His c.v. includes consequential stints with drum icons Art Blakey and Roy Haynes, with the influential Terence Blanchard-Donald Harrison Quintet of the 1980s, and, since 1990, Latin jazz pioneer Eddie Palmieri's Afro-Caribbean Octet. He comes as close as anyone from his generation at transforming the saxophone into an analogue for the human voice.
"The beauty of jazz is to find the things that are truly you, tell a story, and touch people," he told me some years back. "That's why I say it's all about love. I enjoy going out in this world, watching people, being around people, seeing the joy that what we do can bring to them. Besides all the intellect and high thinking that we put in the music, when it's all said and done, what do you feel?"