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  • Billy Harper (2006)

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    Billy Harper's unique music creativity was first noted in Houston, Texas, where, at age 5, he was singing at sacred and secular functions and participating in choral and solo singing events. By age 14, he formed his first Billy Harper Quintet while a student at Evan E. Worthing High School. Graduating cum laude, he went on to study saxophone and music theory at North Texas State University and received his Bachelor of Music degree. He continued graduate studies at NTSU and became a member of their "big band." That year, 1965, the University's big band won first prize at the Kansas Jazz Festival.



    Harper moved to New York in 1966 and began attracting attention from some of jazzdom's giants - Gil Evans, Max Roach, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He performed, recorded and toured Europe, Japan, Africa and throughout the United States from 1966 to 1979 with these groups, as well as his own Billy Harper Quintet.



    The Billy Harper Quintet began receiving notoriety of its own. In 1966, Harper and his ensemble group were highlighted on the NBC-TV special, "The Big Apple." With more exposure came bigger audiences and bigger demands for appearances.



    Throughout Harper's career, there has been a pattern of spiritual growth and innovation. Says Harper: "My feeling is that music should have a purpose. In the past, it always has been used for healing and uplifting and meditation. And that's the way I see my music. I've had people come up after a program to tell me that they felt a spiritual healing from the music. When that happens, then I feel we're fulfilling what we're supposed to do. If people are entertained, that's ok too. But I certainly see a purpose in my music beyond that."



    As a teacher and lecturer, Harper has taught at Livingston College and Rutgers University. He has also received a special grant from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts to teach improvisation at 15 high schools. Awards and honors included 3 Music Composition Grants; two from the National Endowment of the Arts, and one from the Creative Arts Program. He also received the International Critics Award for Tenor Saxophone for two years consecutively.



    As a recording artist, Billy Harper's album, Black Saint exploded on the international jazz scene in 1976. The reviews all applauded his innovations and prompted the Modern Jazz League of Tokyo to name the album, "Jazz Record of the Year - Voice Grand Prix."



    Billy Harper currently tours the world. He also has a very active fan club with members from all over the world , which has Billy Harper items of memorabalia. Also included on his website is a photo gallery.
    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Vanessa Bell Armstrong Peace Be Still (LP Peace Be Still (Onyx)
    # 2 Scott Smith Face to Face Set Free (Light)
    # 3 Kiichi Hamada Soran-Bushi (45 RPM single) Soran-Bushi (Toshiba)
    # 4 Billy Harper Soran-Bushi BH Soran-Bushi BH (Denon)
    # 5 Unnamed Burundian singers Burundi: Musiques Traditionnelles Chant des femmes (Ocora)
    # 6 The Winans Long Time Comin' Long Time Comin' (Holdin' On (Light)
    # 7 Kenny Dorham Whistle Stop Whistle Stop (Blue Note)
    # 8 John Coltrane A Love Supreme Acknowledgment (Impulse)
             
    Book Hazrat Inayat Khan, "The Sufi Message, Vol. 2
             
    Luxury Item A black Suzuki "Intruder" motorcycle
    Castaways by date
    Chris Amberger
    23 Jun
    Gerald Beckett
    01 Sep
    Buzz Brooks
    28 Apr
    Jarrett Cherner
    16 Jun
    Kev Choice
    30 Jun
    Anat Cohen
    28 Jul
    Natalie Cressman
    10 Feb
    Hershey Felder
    07 Apr
    Mitchell Feldman
    18 Aug
    Mike Galisatus
    03 Nov
    Aaron Germain
    06 Jan
    Robin Gregory
    17 Feb
    Tamir Hendelman
    13 Oct
    Kasey Knudsen
    17 Mar
    Matthew Montfort
    26 May
    Dan Montgomery
    06 Oct
    Andrea Motis
    21 Jul
    Ray Obiedo
    10 Mar
    Jayn Pettingill
    17 Nov
    John Pizzarelli
    25 Aug
    Sandi Poindexter
    24 Mar
    Don Randi
    20 Oct
    David Rogers
    24 Feb
    Eric Whittington
    29 Sep
    George Winston
    04 Aug
    Lizz Wright
    09 Jun
    Jason Yeager
    02 Jun