Billy Harper Jazz Tenor Saxophonist + Voices at Zebs NYC 12.21.13 8PM

Photo of author

( — December 5, 2013) New York, New York — 


Billy Harper is an Amercian Jazz Tenor Saxophonist in the John Coltrane tradition. His tone is clean, dry and sounds like wind blowing over the open desert. It whistles with a directness that cuts over the rhythm section, searing a cool sound right into your brain, body and sensory awareness. He is a composer, a traditionalist in one sense, with an inquistive harmonic twist that he invents each time he improvises. A graduate of North Texas University, playing in the prestigious One O’Clock Lab Band, he plays with the “big texas tenor sound.” 


With an early interest in music, beginning at age 5 singing in church choirs and secular functions, his career has been a journey of composing, teaching, lecturing, performing and taking his audience to spiritual places and well as entertaining them. Recently his concert collaboration with Cobi Narita, St Peter’s Church in NYC (known as the jazz church) and a 60 voice choir, produced a DVD of the recorded concert. The original concert was performed on December 1, 2012. The December 21, 2013 concert at Zebs will have a what he calls, the “Small Ensemble Voices” and is a fundraiser to help continue and complete the 60 voice DVD project. More about Billy Harper can be found on his site:


Mr. Harper explains his concept for the “Voices” project here; “The “Billy Harper Voices” started as an attempt to have instrumental players realize that what they were improvising is actually the same as what their voices would be singing if they applied the information to their instruments, whether playing a horn, a piano, drums, trumpet or any other instrument. So the group began as I instructed my instrumental class to verbalize scat their solos. 



This idea developed from an experience that I had as a teenager talking “scat” with my friend George. We many times spoke to each other in “scat talk”, or what I’ve come to call “Improv Lingo”. It’s a term I coined based on “improvisation of sounds in language” – as George and I were doing. Quite similar to the scatting that you may hear some of the jazz singers utilizing in their vocal improvisations. 


So with an emphasis on this approach, we introduce this “lingo” as was done by Eddie Jefferson, Ella Fitzgerald, King Pleasure, Dizzy Gillespie, etc. with most exciting compositions and arrangements from the “jazz world”; many are originals of mine, some are from the hand of other prolific writers: Thelonius Monk, Wayne Shorter, etc.”


Throughout Harper’s career, there has been a pattern of spiritual growth and innovation. Says Harper: “My feeling is that music should have a purpose. In the past, it always has been used for healing and uplifting and meditation. And that’s the way I see my music. I’ve had people come up after a program to tell me that they felt a spiritual healing from the music. When that happens, then I feel we’re fulfilling what we’re supposed to do. If people are entertained, that’s ok too. But I certainly see a purpose in my music beyond that.”


“Opening the show, Harper was awesome. He is a tenor saxophonist with…a dry, seared, scorched-air tone and the relentless intensity of a prairies fire fanned by a tornado. But Harper’s cyclonic flights into “outside” harmonic areas, his leaps and free-fall dives through extremes of register and timbre remain anchored to profound blues feeling…in a melting, songful lyricism. And he is a soul of sensitivity and intelligence, as well as of explosive, majestic passion.” 


Thomas Albright – San Francisco Chronicle 


Zebs is located in the Chelsea area of New York City, between 7th and 8th avenues. Look for a red awning that reads “Greenich Village Plumbers Supply” and open the red iron gate. Walk up approximately 25 steps and step into Saul Rubin’s loft area that also serves as a recording studio/workshop space. Saul Rubin is Cobi Narita’s production partner in all of Ms. Narita’s productions for the month of December 2013.


Mr. Rubin conducts vocal jazz salon’s every Wednesday evenings from 8pm to midnight. You can drop by and hear some of New Yorks finest jazz musicians as they accompany some of New York’s most interesting and talented jazz singers. Mr. Rubin is a celebrated guitarist and a most imaginative and prolific producer. Gifted with a warm personality and a welcoming manner, you will feel totally comfortable and ready to enjoy one of New York’s most eclectic listening rooms. Zebs is truly a New York experience, so bring a friend and soak in the sounds.


Two Sets: 8 to 9pm and 9:30 to 11pm

Admission: $25.00


For more information on Billy Harper, please visit:

For more info on Cobi Narita, please visit:

For more information on Zebs, please visit: 



Catherine Castle

White Diamond Marketing




223 West 28th st. 2nd floor walkup
New York, New York 10001-5903