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Billy Harper Edit Profile

music educator , jazz musician

Billy Harper, Musician. Recipient International Critics award, France, 1974, 75. Member American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, American Federation Musicians, Songwriters Guild, Jazz People's Movement (vice-chairman 1970-1971).


Harper, Billy was born on January 17, 1943 in Houston, Texas, United States. Son of Pearl Harper-Green.


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


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". 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.


  • book

  • Other Work

    • Composer Croquet Ballet, 1970 (Voice Grand Prix award 1976), Priestess, 1975, Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart, 1975 (Voice Grand Prix award 1976), Soran Bushi-B.H., 1978, Destiny is Yours, 1982. Artistic contributor Encyclopedia of Jazz, 1979, The Jazz Book, 1982.


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.

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.


  • Other Interests

    Avocations: reading, sports, theater, jogging.


Pearl Harper-Green. Harper