Jazz Institute of Chicago

Harold Ousley returns to Chicago

Harold Ousley returns to Chicago
by Charles Walton

Harold Ousley was born in Chicago in 1929 and is an alumnus of the Walter Dyett, DuSable High School era. Now a resident of New York, he performed at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase on January 25, 26, 27, and 28 in a Gene Ammons Tribute. While here, he also recorded a CD for Bob Koester's Delmark Records. Other than playing a few tunes with the Earma Thompson group at the last Jazz Institute Winter Jazz Fair, this was his first Chicago appearance since 1957. He is a major player on tenor sax and other reed instruments and is a bandleader, composer and educator. During his Showcase run, Chicago audiences had the opportunity to appreciate the many facets of his talents.

Ousley says that his major influences were Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Gene Ammons. His big, gutsy tenor sound has been heard to good effect in the bands of Lionel Hampton, Machito, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. He has also accompanied singers Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Dionne Warwick.

A bandleader for over 15 years, he has also made an impact as a composer—Sonny Stitt, Freddie Hubbard, "Brother" Jack McDuff and George Benson have recorded his work. As a film composer, he was responsible for the music for "Not Just Another Woman" and appeared as an actor in "Cotton Comes to Harlem."

Harold is an inspirational educator. He hopes to communicate to Chicago audiences the force of his belief: "Music must nourish, console, and inspire all people."

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