Billy Harper

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Billy Harper
Billy Harper photo 2.jpg
Billy Harper at the Jazz Standard, 2007
Background information
Born (1943-01-17) January 17, 1943 (age 74)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Saxophone
Labels Black Saint, Strata-East, SteepleChase, Evidence
Associated acts The Cookers

Billy Harper (born January 17, 1943, in Houston, Texas) is an American jazz saxophonist, "one of a generation of Coltrane-influenced tenor saxophonists" with a distinctively stern, hard-as-nails sound on his instrument.[1]


In 1965 Harper earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas.[2]

Harper has played with some of jazz's greatest drummers; he served with Art Blakey's Messengers for two years (1968–70); 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 1970s.[1] He has also been a frequent member of Randy Weston's ensembles, and in 2013 they recorded their first album as a duo, entitled The Roots of the Blues.[3] Harper performed on Gil Evans' 1973 album Svengali, and contributed two of the most-performed tunes in the band's repertoire: "Priestess" and "Thoroughbred".

Harper's 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".[4] 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/co-leader[edit]

With The Cookers[edit]

  • Warriors (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2010)
  • Cast The First Stone (Plus Loin Music/Harmonia Mundi, 2011)
  • Believe (Motéma Music, 2012)
  • Time And Time Again (Motéma Music, 2014)
  • The Call Of The Wild And Peaceful Heart [live] (Smoke Sessions, 2016)

As sideman[edit]

With Art Blakey

  • Live! Vol. 1 (Everest, 1968)
  • Moanin' (LRC, 1968)

With Stanley Cowell

  • Such Great Friends (Strata-East, 1983)

With Charles Earland

With Gil Evans

With Sonny Fortune

With Bobbi Humphrey

With The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra

With Mark Masters Jazz Orchestra

With Grachan Moncur III

  • Explorations (Capri, 2004)

With Lee Morgan

With Max Roach

With Woody Shaw

With Malachi Thompson

  • 47th Street (Delmark, 1996)
  • Freebop Now! (Delmark, 1998)
  • Blue Jazz (Delmark, 2003) – with Gary Bartz

With Charles Tolliver

  • With Love (Mosaic/Blue Note, 2006)
  • Emperor March: Live at the Blue Note (Half Note, 2008)

With McCoy Tyner

With Randy Weston

With Piotr Wojtasik

  • Quest (Power Bros Records – PB 00147, 1996)


  1. ^ a b Chris Kelsey, Billy Harper Biography, Allmusic.
  2. ^ Office of Registrar & Alumni Records, University of North Texas, Denton
  3. ^ "Randy Weston & Billy Harper on The Roots of the Blues", Open Sky Jazz, November 28, 2013.
  4. ^ Jason Ankeny, Capra Black review, Allmusic.