Billy Harper

Genres: Jazz
Tags: jazz free jazz saxophone avant-garde experimental Powered by AudioScrobbler
Decades: 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
Links: allmusic discogs official homepage VIAF wikidata wikipedia


17 January 1943, Houston, Texas, USA. A child soloist in the church choir, Harper took up the tenor saxophone at the age of 12. He formed his first quintet at 14, and played in high school bands before graduating summa cum laude. At Texas State University he gained a degree in saxophone and theory, working professionally as a singer/saxophonist at the same time. He worked in R&B bands and with James Clay and Fred Smith, then moved to New York in 1966, soon beginning a decade-long musical association with Gil Evans. From 1968-70 he also worked with Art Blakey, then in 1971 joined the Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Big Band until 1973. He has also worked with Lee Morgan, Elvin Jones and Max Roach.

In addition to his impressive tenor, Harper plays flute as well as teaching and composing: his tune ‘Thoroughbred’ was a staple of Evans’ repertoire for several years, and later Evans groups played many more Harper pieces, most notably...

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by Billy Harper