University of Pittsburgh
April 15, 2013

“Swing Into Spring” at Annual Pitt Jazz Ensemble Concert April 18

Event features first local performance by the Harper brothers—Winard Harper on drums and Philip Harper on trumpet—in 25 years.

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—Internationally acclaimed jazz musicians and brothers Winard and Philip Harper will take the stage alongside members of the Pitt Jazz Ensemble at “Swing Into Spring,” the ensemble’s annual spring concert, at 8 p.m. April 18 in Pitt’s Bellefield Hall Auditorium, 315 S. Bellefield Ave., Oakland. Tickets, available at the door, are $10 for the general public and $5 for students and senior citizens. For more information, call 412-624-4187.

Drummer Winard Harper

Winard, a drummer, and his younger brother Philip, a trumpeter, became international jazz stars as coleaders of The Harper Brothers Quintet from 1988 to 1993; early in 1990 eminent jazz historian and critic Leonard Feather called the quintet “the most brilliant new jazz group of the new decade.” While Winard was a guest musician for the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert in 2006, 2010, and 2012, he has not performed in the Pittsburgh area with his brother in 25 years.

The Pitt Jazz Ensemble is a student organization that was founded in 1969 by Professor of Music Nathan Davis, head of Pitt’s Jazz Studies Program, which is part of the Department of Music in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Its members, who include both music and nonmusic majors, have performed around the globe. The band is now under the direction of Ralph Guzzi, Pitt music faculty member, local trumpeter, and arranger for the PBS series MY MUSIC, the McKeesport Symphony, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, among others. In addition to the Harper brothers and Pitt student musicians, local musicians Tony Campbell, saxophone; Tony DePaolis, bass; Alton Merrell, piano; and Cecil Washington, Latin percussion, will perform at the April 18 concert.

About Winard Harper

A percussionist whose virtuosity has been described by jazz critic Franz Matzner as “truly awe-inspiring,” Winard Harper is known for his resolute style, tremendous touch on the drums, and deep knowledge of jazz history. As a teenager, he and his brother Philip former the Harper Brothers Quintet. Winard’s first major gig was with Dexter Gordon in 1982 and shortly thereafter with Johnny Griffin. Soon his drumming skills captured the attention of Betty Carter, and he spent four years with her band, honing his showmanship. During the 1980s, while performing with such jazz legends as Ray Bryant, Pharoah Sanders, and Clifford Jordan, he laid the foundation for what would become the Harper Brothers Quintet. He and Philip blazed a brilliant trail, both on the charts and on the international touring circuit.

About Philip Harper
Philip Harper began playing the trumpet at age 10 and later studied at the Hartt School of Music with Jackie McLean. By the time he was 18, he was living in New York City and working and recording extensively with such musicians as “Little” Jimmy Scott, Jimmy McGriff, Betty Carter, Etta Jones, and Cedar Walton. Between 1986 and 1988, he was a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Then he began touring the world with his brother, Winard, in The Harper Brothers Quintet. The two made several successful albums together, including Remembrance: Live at the Village Vanguard (Polygram Records, 1990), which was No. 1 on the Top Jazz Album chart in 1990.