Billy Harper performing at the Jazz Standard in 2007.
January 17, 1943 |
|Labels||Black Saint, Strata-East, SteepleChase, Evidence|
Billy Harper (born January 17, 1943 in Houston, Texas) is a Jazz saxophonist, "one of a generation of Coltrane-influenced tenor saxophonists" with a distinctively stern, hard-as-nails sound on his instrument.
Harper has played with some of jazz's greatest drummers; he served with Art Blakey's Messengers for two years (1968–1970); he played very briefly with Elvin Jones (1970), he played with the Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra in the 1970s, and was a member of Max Roach's band in the late '70s. He has also been a frequent member of Randy Weston's ensembles. He performed on Gil Evans' 1973 album Svengali, and contributed two of the most-performed tunes in the band's repertoire: "Priestess" and "Thoroughbred".
His 1973 album Capra Black "remains one of the seminal recordings of jazz's black consciousness movement--a profoundly spiritual effort that channels both the intellectual complexity of the avant garde as well as the emotional potency of gospel". The Italian jazz label Black Saint was launched with Harper's 1975 album Black Saint. His later releases have mostly been on SteepleChase and Evidence.
As leader 
- 1973: Capra Black (Strata East)
- 1975: Black Saint (Black Saint)
- 1977: Soran-Bushi, B.H. (Denon)
- 1979: Trying to Make Heaven My Home (MPS Records)
- 1979: Billy Harper Quintet in Europe (Soul Note)
- 1979: The Awakening (Marge Records)
- 1980: The Believer (Baystate)
- 1989: Destiny Is Yours
- 1993: Somalia
- 1998: If Our Hearts Could Only See (DIW Records)
- 2000: Soul of an Angel
- 2009: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 2
As sideman 
With Charles Earland
With Gil Evans
With Bobbi Humphrey
- Flute In (Blue Note, 1971)
With Lee Morgan
- The Last Session (Blue Note, 1972)
With Max Roach
With McCoy Tyner
- Journey (Birdology, 1993)
With Randy Weston