Winard Harper


I don’t know whether or not Be Yourself, the title of the latest from drummer/composer Winard Harper, refers to a recent life-based realization. Nonetheless, the warmth and relaxed beauty that characterize the disc are certainly a far cry from the uncomfortable precision that marked Harper’s stint with the now-defunct Harper Brothers Band—and for that we should be thankful. Of course, the contributions of the ever-lyrical and undersung trumpeter Eddie Henderson, bassist Buster Williams, and pianist Reuben Brown probably have something to do with it. The latter’s “Li’l Willie” is among the collection’s highlights, effortlessly combining lovely ensemble lines, substantive solos, and Harper’s discreet but unremitting swing and drive.