Bankhead became associated with the Chicago jazz scene in the early 1980s. He became associated early in his career with Fred Anderson, playing frequently with Anderson on tour as well as at Anderson's Chicago club, the Velvet Lounge. In addition to Anderson, Bankhead has worked with Oliver Lake, Roscoe Mitchell, Von Freeman, Malachi Thompson, 8 Bold Souls, and Hamid Drake, and is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. His first album as a leader, Morning Sun/Harvest Moon, was released on Engine, a sublabel of ESP-Disk, in 2011, and featured sidemen Edward Wilkerson, Jr., Mars Williams, James Sanders, Avreeayl Ra, and Ernie Adams. He followed this with Velvet Blue, with Wilkerson, Williams, and Ra, whose name and title track pay tribute to Fred Anderson and the Velvet Lounge.
- Morning Sun/Harvest Moon (Engine Studios, 2011)
- Velvet Blue (Engine Studios, 2013)
With Malachi Thompson
- The Jaz Life (Delmark, 1992)
- Lift Every Voice (Delmark, 1993)
- Buddy Bolden's Rag (Delmark, 1995)
- 47th Street (Delmark, 1997)
- Freebop Now! (Delmark, 1998)
- Rising Daystar (Delmark, 1999)
- Talking Horns (Delmark, 2001) with Hamiet Bluiett and Oliver Lake
- Blue Jazz (Delmark, 2003) with Gary Bartz and Billy Harper
- Fred Anderson/Harrison Bankhead - The Great Vision Concert (Ayler Records, 2007)
- Nicole Mitchell, Harrison Bankhead, Hamid Drake - Indigo Trio: Live in Montreal (2007)
- The Turbine!, Harrison Bankhead, Benjamin Duboc, Hamid Drake, Ramon Lopez - Entropy/Enthalpy (RogueArt, 2015)
- Shanta Nurullah's Sitarsys, ''Sitar Black'' (Storywiz, 2016)
- Harrison Bankhead at Allmusic
- Piotr Michalowski, Bass Is The Place. Ann Arbor Observer, October 2014.
- Lyn Horton, Review of Morning Sun/Harvest Moon. JazzTimes, August 9, 2011.
- Peter Margasak, Three Beats: Bassist Harrison Bankhead finally releases an album of his own. Chicago Reader, July 28, 2011.
- Peter Margasak, Bassist Harrison Bankhead, back in front. Chicago Reader, January 24, 2014.