Billy Harper – Capra Black


Billy Harper – Capra Black
Capra Black – Strata East 1973, SES-19739

Billy Harper is a master of the tenor sax. Had he been born 5 years earlier, he would be regarded among such legends as Rollins and Trane. Sadly, much of his best work was released to limited audiences, this disc included. There have been multiple repressings, but this is still a rare and expensive LP. Capra Black is likely the most famous Billy Harper record, and deservingly so. A loose and languid composition, it starts with the band in a fanfare and then the band backs down so that Billy can really start blowing. What follows is some of the most inspired solo shredding of the 1970s. Jimmy Owens take a great turn on the trumpet (an alternate recording of this song, with Lee Morgan leading and Harper following is good but lacks the raw power of the original). George Cables does a good job on his solo echoing the style of Harper’s lines while still making unique harmonic choices. The band comes back in on the theme and lets the song find resolution, but you’re not going to be able to get Harper’s robust tone out of the deepest corners of your ears.

A great article on the history of Strata East, which in a way was the 1970s version of Bandcamp.

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