In the jazz idiom, very few master musicians have held the title of leader while pounding out the heartbeat of any great band behind the drum set since legends Art Blakey and Max Roach.
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.
Chicagoans will get to experience the full spectrum of Harper’s rhythms Thursday through Sunday during his 4 day engagement at the famous Jazz Showcase club, 808 s. Plymouth ct. Harper speaking from his New Jersey digs – that he won’t veer from what he usually brings when requested to play in the Windy City.
“Hopefully as always, (we’ll bring) good music and an exciting time” Harper said. “But it’s a young an exciting band. At this time I’m working hard trying to keep the tradition going of giving younger artists a place to develop. I’m trying to create an environment where the guys can spend about three to four years and move on. “They may have to stay longer because the industry and the market are not supporting (jazz music) like they did several years ago. When we came on the scene, there were not a lot of bands, but a lot of places to play. Now, there are a lot of bands, but not a lot of places to play.” The tradition of letting younger musicians develop and grow into their own leaders has been a tried and true concept for Harper in his own development as an internationally renowned and well-respected musician.