Making the Low Notes: A Life in Music

Open Bks. Jun. 2023. 236p. ISBN 9781956897289. pap. $18.99. MEMOIR
A colloquially recounted story of a string bass musician who became a mental health counselor, this book more generally conveys lessons on career transitioning, cultural competency, adapting to aging, and surviving bullying. For more than 40 years, the New York City–born Harrison, preferring supporting over starring roles, parlayed his musical talent into gigs as a part of jazz, pop, and theatrical bands playing in the Chicago area and on tour. The author gained respect as an associate of many musical greats, such as Dizzy Gillespie, and several legends served as mentors. Adaptability and versatility were keys to Harrison’s success. Musically, he shifted from upright to electric bass as needed, and he witnessed several women singers make the transition to instrumentalist. Personally, he learned about his hidden battles with depression, and he changed careers from musician to licensed therapist when bodily injuries and a lasting desire to contribute to others’ lives led him to the less physically taxing role.
VERDICT While exploring a life in music, this book also outlines trying to fit in, finding and retaining a job, and adjusting to fellow workers, all experiences that many readers may find to be universally relatable.
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