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Winard Harper and Gretchen Parlato

Winard Harper

Join Dee Dee at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., for the winner of a premiere jazz competition, and a drummer whom you might call a 21st-century jazz messenger!

Imagine singing for this panel: Kurt Elling, Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones, Flora Purim, Little Jimmy Scott and Dee Dee Bridgewater. The judges and finalists at the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition were excellent (as always). Gretchen Parlato, an alumna of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts with a jazz degree from UCLA, took First Prize. Her winning performance opens JazzSet.

It was a vocalist who helped launch Winard Harper's career. Betty Carter had a legendary ear for talent, and her approach required a fast, flexible drummer. After she discovered Winard, she kept him in her trio for four years. And Betty wasn't the only one: Etta Jones, Carmen McRae and Joe Williams knew Winard's phone number as well.

Harper's exciting technique as a bandleader recalls drummer Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. On JazzSet, from a late 2004 date at the KC Jazz Club, Winard bops hardily with strong touches of the church and Africa, sometimes all together as in the closing number "God is the Greatest."

The latest CD from Winard Harper is Come into the Light, on the Savant label.

"More Than You Know"
"I've Never Been in Love Before"

"Reflections" (Ray Bryant)
"Float Like a Butterfly" (Reuben Brown)
"Here's to Life" (Alan and Marilyn Bergman)
"God is the Greatest" (Winard Harper)


  • Winard Harper

  • Gretchen Parlato

  • Thelonious Monk Institute

  • Winard Harper at the Kennedy Center

    Thanks to Executive Director Tom Carter and Leonard Brown of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and music recording engineer Bill Winn. Our concert producers are Kevin Struthers with Sean Costello, Jean Thill and Sara Waller of Kennedy Center Jazz.
    Our music mixer is Duke Markos, with Greg Hartman and Chris Weal of BigMo Recording.
    And also: Jazzset director Claude Carrière in Paris; recording engineer Pascal Camille of Média Mix Productions; Producer Becca Pulliam and Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe III at WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, NJ.

    Copyright 2007 NPR