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Winard Harper
Born: June 4th 1962, Baltimore, Maryland. USA

Winard Harper: Drum & Cymbal Virtuoso.
Quote ~ "The drums are important in almost all cultures, it's not just among the African cultures that the drum plays a role, but look at Native Americans. There's a language in the drums. In music, the drums provide the pulse, the heartbeat. To a band, the drums are what your heart is to your body. All of the great bands, all the great innovators throughout history have had great drummers... Miles had Philly Joe Jones and Jimmy Cobb or Tony Williams, John Coltrane had Elvin Jones, Count Basie had Papa Joe Jones, Cannonball Adderly had Louis Hayes. The drums provide the pulse and the spirit of music." ~ Winard Harper
Clifford Brown
Max Roach
Cannonball Adderley

Dr. Billy Taylor
Art Blakey
Billy Higgins

Winard Harper: photo courtesy of Jeffery Klinman
Winard Harper: photo with courtesy of Jeffery Klinman

Winard Harper was born in Baltimore, although his parents were not musical they were full of encouragment. As was his elder brother Danny who by 1966 already had his own rock n roll band. At 5 years old Winard would sometimes sit in and play his drums in the band. When Winards younger brother Philip took to playing the trumpet, the two of them would busk in the streets of George Town, jam with a few bands, and help out with Danny's various bands. The family moved to Atlanta in the early 70s, were Winard joined a young band as drummer, playing the popular music of the times, gigging most Friday and Saturday nights. Winard attended University of Cincinnati - Cincinnati Conservatory [of Music]. Then went to the University of Hartford, as a result of scholarships that he and Phillip won to study with jazz legend Jackie McLean. Listening to Clifford Brown and Max Roach playing "Jordu.", had fascinated Winard so greatly and showed him his direction ~ jazz. Now in Washington his father took him to all the jazz scenes to listen and meet the best in the world of jazz.
In his late teens, Winard met up with pianist Reuben Brown . Reuben brought into play a great deal of influence on Winard, the two worked together for more than a year in a trio with Steve Novel. Also by 1981 Winard had put together the forerunner of of his future band (The Harper Brothers Band) ~ this band was 'D.C. Jazz Quintet.' Reuben Brown played piano, the bass player was Pepe Gonzalez and James King on bass, his younger brother Philip on trumpet and Winard on drums. Soon though in 1982 he left Washington for New York.

Billy Taylor's Trio with Winard Harper and Chip Jackson
Photo with courtesy of Billy Taylor

New York brought him the opportunity to work with late saxophone virtuoso Dexter Gordon, which led to working with hard bop tenor saxophonist, Johnny Griffin and finally he joined the legendary Betty Carter and her band where he stayed as her drummer for four years. This was a tremenous learning experience. During these years on his free days, he still kept a band of his own working. This was the early days of "The Harper Brothers" which consisted of Winard & Philip (who had been working with the Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers), Benny Green, Chinett Marshall and Ralph Moore, working in clubs around the city. Winards older brother Danny soon joined them as composer, writing some great material for the boys.
By 1988 Winard's hard work and dedication to jazz paid dividends with a record deal from PolyGram. At 27 Winard was already playing like a veteran, a virtuoso on the cymbals as well as the drums. "The Harper Brothers" were on their way, with Winard on drum's, brother Philip on trumpet, Justin Robinson on alto saxophone, Stephen Scott on piano, Michael Bowie on bass and Danny Harper composing. This was one of the hottest groups of the post-bop era of the late '80s, early '90s with Winard and Michael Bowie meshing perfectly, playing as one. If you were lucky enough to see these amazing young jazz musician's The Harper Brothers live, you might have thought you'd been transported back in time, when bebop wizards Bird, Dizzy and Monk were the toast of the town with pyrotechnic riffs and fascinating rhythms. The young band's total dedication and enthusiasm to jazz, mastery of the music clearly shone, hot, burning audiences with excitment. This propelled both Winard and Philip into jazz notoriety as members of the "Young Lions"- young jazz artists credited with reviving classic jazz. Their second album spent six weeks at No. l on the Billboard Jazz charts in 1990. The Harper Brothers were an international jazz sensation.

School 'demonstration in jazz' by The Winard Harper Sextet
Photo courtesy of The Jazz Network Foundation
In 1993 the Harper Brother Band split, with Winard going his own way to form a new, very exciting and hard-swinging sextet. He has released six superb albums to date, and tours extensively. Winard works with various master musicians and young dedicated jazz musicans under his skilled guidance in his sextet varied line-ups including Patrick Rickman, George Cables, Wycliffe Gordon, Reuben Brown, Scott Harper, Brian Horton, Jeb Patton, Kevin Sholar, Ameen Saleem, Nick Rolfe, Carrie Smith, Abdou, Alioune Faye, J.D. Allen, Cecil Brooks III, Buster Williams and Eric Revis.
Quote - "Not only is Winard Harper one of the hardest working drummers in jazz today, he is also a formidable band leader backed by a group of talented young players. Each possesses their own voice, and each, under the expert guidance of Harper, are capable of synthesizing their disparate styles and personalities into a whole both unique and greater than the sum of its parts. In the end, just about the only thing as entertaining as a night of Winard Harper at the KC Jazz Club is, well, a night of Winard Harper somewhere else. Especially if you can catch him at a venue without the constraints of strictly timed-sets where Harper can fully let loose. Always a profound experience, catch Harper the next time he's in town, or if you are on the road, look for him on tour, and you will never be disappointed. " - Franz A. Matzner
The the Winard Harper Sextet certainly is doing it's part to bring the power of jazz to audiences everywhere. Apart from all the touring, festivals, cruise ships and clubs, Winard's sextet also travel to schools on programs which enable young audiences to learn more about jazz and the sxtet is included in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education Program. Also Winard Harper travels the US appearing at sold out-drum clinics and finds time for projects with Wycliffe Gordon, Billy Taylor, Frank Wess, Ray Bryant and Jimmy Heath. Winard with his huge wealth of experience, skill on the drums and cymbals is doing more for the goodwill of jazz than any person for decades.

Three album covers which Winard has appeared on.


Harper Brothers - The Harper Brothers
Remembrance - The Harper Brothers
Live at the Village Vanguard -
The Harper Brothers
Artistry - The Harper Brothers
You Can Hide Inside the Music - Harper Brothers
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Come Into The Light - Winard Harper's Sextet
A Time For The Soul - Winard Harper's Sextet
Faith - Winard Harper's Sextet
Winard - Winard Harper's Sextet
Trap Dancer -
Winard Harper's Sextet
Be Yourself - Winard Harper's Sextet
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Duets: Live at the Great American Music Hall - Betty Ca
Surprise, Surprise!-Live At The 1996 Floating Jazz - Frank Wess
All Mine... and Yours - Ray Bryant
North of the Border - Ray Bryant
Ray's Tribute to His Jazz Piano Friends - Ray Bryant
Dig This! - Wycliffe Gordon
Sextet The Gospel Truth -
Wycliffe Gordon
Taylor Made at the Kennedy Center - Billy Taylor

Live at IAJE-New York - Billy Taylor
Urban Griot - Billy Taylor

Winard Harper has over the years become one of the hardest working drummers in jazz today, not only leading the very exciting and hard-swinging sextet, but also continuing as one of the most in-demand sidemen. Washington Post reviewer, Mike Joyce said, "Winard Harper's wonderfully orchestrated solos alone might have forced a corpse to grin!"

Winard Harper. Photo with courtesy of Mark Sheldon.
Winard Harper: Photo with courtesy of Mark Sheldon