winard harper sextet
Often, jazz drummers operate in the background — jumping at the occasional solo but mostly laying a base, part of the foundation on which saxophones and horns build. Not so when the group bears the drummer's name. Since the 1980s, Winard Harper — who backed sax legend Dexter Gordon and spent four years with singer Betty Carter — has led groups known for their hard-driving bop. In these, Harper is far more than the foundation. He's out front, his drums leading the charge upon which the music builds. On his latest album, Coexist, the drums and bop are always present — swinging the title tune, underlying an Ellington standard or driving a gospel-tinged "Amazing Grace."