Harper summarizes Jeli Posse's swing savvy, world spiced flavor when he shares, “Everything builds on everything as the values and traditions are passed down. From the African roots to today, many ingredients have been thrown into the pot. The band continues to expand on the the ground laid by the medicine men and messengers before us." The 2012 Album "Coexist" epitomises the band's multicultural approach.
Harper's lifelong jazz apprenticeship has taken him around the world. It includes playing and recording with many greats, including Betty Carter, Johnny Griffin, Dr. Billy Taylor and Dexter Gordon. Influences include Jackie McClean, Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Cannonball Adderley, and Billy Higgins. "Higgins had a big impact on me as a person and musician. He played with such joy. He saw jazz as spiritual and social work and walked the talk."
Those early years also instilled a strong sense of what it means to be a band. "Building something together... sharing vision, cohesion, sacrifices and growth over time... that makes a band.", says Harper.
The Baltimore native, born in 1962, got an early start with the support of his father and older brother, Danny. By age five, he was making guest appearances with Danny's band. He recalls an epiphany while listening to recordings. "I was fascinated hearing Max do the things he did with percussion of all types," he recalls. “I knew jazz was what I wanted to play.”
Winard co-founded the internationally acclaimed Harper Brothers with trumpeter sibling, Philip in the 80's. Their solo paths diverged in 1993. Winard founded his own Sextet and in 1994 recorded Be Yourself on the Epicure label, followed by six more albums. At the same time, Winard has continued to perform and record world-wide. 30 plus years of band leadership reflect an ever evolving mission to enlighten, heal and uplift.
Official Interational Association of Jazz Educators Award, 2002
Hothouse Magazine NYC Jazz Fans Award (Drummer), 2016
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"Winard Harper is one of his generation's greatest standards bearers. Harper's
goal seems plain and simple - propel the ensemble with a dynamic sense of
- Downbeat Magazine
“Winard Harper, however, has proven since the late ‘80s to be one of the true
great bandleaders who sits behind a drum kit while pushing his ensemble to
explore international sounds ranging from African to Caribbean to Afro-Cuban,
all wrapped around the core of Hard Bop jazz. ”
- Chicago Defender " Demetrius Patterson
“Overall, Harper’s methodology translates into a smashing success, brimming
with a charismatic sound and scope, largely driven by finesse and sheer
- Ejazznews " Glenn Astarita
New York City
Willing to teach
Intermediate to advanced
Winard has developed and delivered clinics, master classes and workshops for a number of settings ranging from Elementary school to post-graduate.
Having been a professional musician since the age of ten, Winard's musical career spans over thirty years of international touring, performance and recording. Numerous educational credits include regular participation with the Jazz in the Schools and Betty Carter Jazz Ahead programs at the Kennedy Center, where he is on faculty