Josh Evans [trumpet] Billy Harper [tenor saxophone] Benito Gonzalez [piano] Lonnie Plaxico [bass] Billy Hart [drums]
Smoke’s year-end Coltrane Festival “Countdown 2023” concludes with an 80th birthday celebration for the incredible Billy Harper who is leading a very special quintet with trumpeter Josh Evans, pianist Benito Gonzalez, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and fellow legend and “Cooker” drummer Billy Hart. One of the indispensable saxophonists of the past 50 years stylistically indebted to Trane, Harper has a distinctive sound and approach that his purely his own. Over the years, he’s worked with Art Blakey, Max Roach, Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Lee Morgan, and, most recently, the Cookers. The San Francisco Chronicle says, “He is a soul of sensitivity and intelligence, as well as of explosive, majestic passion.” “His viscous, chocolaty tone and depth-charge bursts from the bottom of his range [are] a stark contrast to the current trend for a post-bop homogeneity of tone in the newer generation of saxophone sounds,” reports JazzWise.