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Billy Harper

By Published: March 22, 2007

AAJ: Once someone hears you, you're someone who is hard to ignore. What else is coming up?

BH: Well, okay, there's another album that I recently recorded, other than the DVD.

AAJ: And this is with your regular band?

BH: The new one that I'm about to tell you about is something that is with my regular band, but this one though has Amiri Baraka, so he's also speaking on it.

AAJ: And he's doing his poetry?

BH: Yes, he's doing some poetry that relates to the music and it'll be behind some of the music that we're doing. It's not the whole record, his thing; he's doing three things on there.

AAJ: And what's the record going to be called?

BH: It's called Amazing Grace.

AAJ: So it continues in the spiritual vein your music has been following.

BH: But on the record we're also doing a thing called Africa Revisited, which is more connected to Trane's Africa/Brass.

Billy HarperAAJ: What prompted you to want to use Amiri on the record?

BH: The idea of people today who are into what they call rap, right, [laughs] that prompted me to think, "You know what, these cats—you know, the real cats—were rapping way before they're calling this rap and I remember Amiri, in the name of Leroi Jones, at that time, who was really rapping then.

AAJ: So are you working with your band a little bit more now?

BH: No, we could be working much more. If something comes up for us, we might be doing something in Europe again, but we need to be doing something in the USA. So no, we could use definitely some more, some more work. Still, it has to with the control of the musical industry, control and how they see things. But the real listeners—I've always had some heavy followers—because they heard the music— the direct music—because they really get the message of the music. There have always been people who have done that with my music.

Selected Discography

Charles Tolliver, With Love (Blue Note, 2007)
Grachan Moncur III, Exploration (Capri, 2004)
Billy Harper, Soul of an Angel (Metropolitan, 2000)
Billy Harper, If Our Hearts Could Only See (DIW, 1998)
Malachi Thompson, Free-bop Now! (Delmark, 1998)
Benny Carter, Journey to Next (Lightyear, 1996)
Billy Harper, On Tour in the Far East, Volume One (Steeplechase, 1994)
McCoy Tyner Big Band, Journey (Telarc, 1994)
Billy Harper, Billy Harper Quintet in Europe (Soul Note, 1979)
Billy Harper, Capra Black (Strata East, 1973)
Gil Evans, Svengali (Koch, 1973)
Max Roach, Lift Every Voice and Sing (Atlantic, 1971)
Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Consummation (Blue Note, 1971)

Photo Credits
Top Photo: C. Andrew Hovan Bottom Photo: Ken Franckling

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