Billy Harper

Destiny Is Yours

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On tenor saxophonist Billy Harper's Steeplechase debut, he and his working band of trumpeter Eddie Henderson, pianist Francesca Tanksley, bassist Clarence Seay, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker perform six originals, five written by Harper, and the oft-played standard "My Funny Valentine," played here a little faster than usual. A veteran of groups led by jazz greats Art Blakey, Max Roach, Randy Weston, Gil Evans, and Lee Morgan, the vastly under-recognized Harper is a master tenor saxophonist who has developed a unique sound on his chosen instrument, sometimes very passionate, sometimes very lyrical. His compositions, characterized by shifting tempos and themes played over insistent vamps, always have a spiritual, uplifting quality to them. Highlights include the title track, a medium-tempo waltz, Tanksley's "Dance in the Question," which alternates between an up-tempo 4/4 and a slower 3/4 section, and Harper's "Groove From Heaven," a medium-tempo swinger which alternates between a descending Harper riff and a six-note bass vamp. This is a perfect introduction to the artist's music.

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