Billy Harper (born January 17, 1943 in Houston, Texas) is a Jazz saxophonist,"one of a generation of Coltrane-influenced tenor saxophonists" witha distinctively stern, hard-as-nails sound on his instrument. In 1966, aftercompleting his studies at the University of North Texas, he moved to New YorkCity where he exploded onto the scene, playing in Gil Evans' Orchestra, ArtBlakey's Jazz Messengers, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis Big Band, Lee MorganQuintet, Max Roach Quartet and Elvin Jones Group. He performed, recorded andtoured Europe, Japan, Africa and throughout the United States from 1966 to 1979with these groups, as well as his own Billy Harper Quintet. However, Harper's most precious contribution to jazz musicand history has been and still is the Billy Harper Quintet. On over two dozenalbums and a live dvd, Harper continuously proves to be one of the greatestjazz artists of all time, both as a saxophonist and a composer. Throughout hiscareer, without exception, every recording Harper made with his Quintet wascomposed and arranged by Harper himself.
He has received a great number of honors, awards andrecognitions for the work done with his Quintet through the years, both in theUSA and abroad. Among the most recent ones was a recognition receivedpersonnally by the prime minister of Poland in 2010, where Billy Harper hasbeen the artistic manager of the Jazz Struggle Festival for almost ten years.Another honor was a concert of Billy Harper compositions held in Finland in2009 featuring Harper on tenor saxophone, accompanied by the Finnish UMO BigBand.
Harper's newest project is the Billy Harper Voices, a vocalgroup that challenges the boundaries of vocal improvisation through a high levelhard bop repertoire arranged by Harper. Aside from his own projects, he is very active on the jazzscene, featured regularly with Randy Weston's African Rhythms, The Cookers,Steve Turré Quintet and Charles Tolliver Big Band.