Soran Bushi, B.H.
01. Trying to Get Ready
03. Soran-Bushi, B.H.
Billy Harper - tenor saxophone
Everett Hollins - trumpet
Harold Mabern - piano
Greg Maker - bass
Horacee Arnold, Billy Hart - drums
Recorded December, 1977 at Sound Ideas Studios NYC.
Harper, Billy (R.), tenor saxophonist, composer, arranger, educator; born Houston, TX, 17 January 1943. His family is musical and he was also strongly influenced by growing up in the A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) church. His grandmother Pearl was married to a minister and was the "guiding light" of his life. Pearl (Nicknamed-"Peachie") raised him. His uncle Earl tried trumpet in high school in Austin, TX, alongside Kenny Dorham and got Billy interested in music. He was already singing "A tisket-a tasket" and other songs at the age of three. In 1948-1956 he began his singing career performing at sacred and secular functions. Around the age of 10 he became fascinated with the appearance of a saxophone that he saw in a music shop window each day as he came from school, and he received a Christmas gift of a tenor saxophone at age 11 from his biological mother, "Babysugar."
In high school he played in the marching band under Sammie Harris, alongside Michael Carvin and Michael Bolivar, and the band won a state championship. Another musical colleague was drummer Malcolm Pinson (they later performed together professionally). He learned about stagecraft from his drama and speech instructor, Vernell Lillie, and he found musical support in her husband, tenor saxophonist Richard (Dickie Boy) Lillie. He was working professionally in blues groups, and graduated cum laude in 1961 from Evan E. Worthing High School. From 1961-1965 he attended North Texas State University (now known as the
University of North Texas), from where he go to Dallas and meet James Clay, Claude Johnson, David "Fathead" Newman, Louis Spears, Ted Dunbar, Roger Boykins "Shag", and "Worm" (an alto saxophonist).
Harper was the first black musician to perform in the famed NTSU "One o'clock" big band that was awarded first prize at the Kansas Jazz Festival. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in 1965 with a major in saxophone, and a minor in theory. Additional major in experimental program for students particularly interested in jazz. Formed and performed frequently with the Billy Harper Sextet.
Moved to New York City in 1966. He spent about a year unemployed, sitting in at Slug's and elsewhere, though he got one lucky break in 1966 in an NBC-TV documentary film, "The Big Apple" (featured newcomers: model, boxer, businessman, opera singer, and jazzman).
Then he met Gil Evans on Broadway and in six months began working with him. In 1967 he also began working with Art Blakey, including a tour to Japan in'68. In 1970 Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Harper, Harold Mabern, and dedicated listeners formed the "Jazz and People's Movement to protest the absence of jazz in TV and radio broadcasting.He and Lee Morgran were in the group that "interrupted " the Merv Griffin Show, and later succeeded at voicing their grievances on the Dick Cavett Show. He worked with Lee Morgan from 1969 until the trumpeter's murder in Feb. 1971.
During this period overall, he worked with Evans 8 yrs., Donald Byrd ('70-'71), Thad Jones-Mel Lewis big band ('71-'78, including a trip to Russia in 1972), Max Roach ('71'-'79), and Randy Weston (with whom he still performs from time to time,'72-present). However since 1979 he has worked most often as leader of his own quintet. He made trips to Japan with Max Roach ('73, '74, '76), Thad Jones ('74), Gil Evans ('72), Billy Harper Quintet ('79), and five other times with All Star groups (1984, 85, and others). With his quintet, he has also toured Western Europe; Portugal; Istanbul, Turkey, Poland, Rumania, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Israel, Taiwan, South America, Japan, Phillipines, Kaoshung, Taiwan, Norway, Finland, France, Italy, Leipzig, Germany, and others.
He is very active as an educator. In 1972 he received a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Arts to teach improvisation at 15 high schools. In 1975 he taught saxophone and flute at Livingston College, Rutgers University. From 1992 to the present he has taught at the New School jazz program, and since 1993 he has presented lectures and master classes at educational institutions around the world
Killer side long title track, well worth the price of the album for. A lovely long and deep modal piece, scattered with the occasional vocal and subtle soloing. A very forgettable a side though, which was a bit of a let down. Japan only release, so a bit of a pig to find, but well worth the dig for the title track.