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Darryl Harper began studying clarinet at age six in his native Philadelphia and was introduced to jazz at 16 by trombonist Anthony Hurdle. Within a year he was working professionally and began sitting in at sessions and performing with Tony Williams, Tyrone Brown, Eddie Green, Bootsie Barnes and other veteran Philadelphia- based jazz artists. Over the years he has performed and/or recorded with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roscoe Mitchell, Dave Holland, Orrin Evans, Freddie Bryant, Tim Warfield and Uri Caine among others. From 2006- 2008 he performed with violinist Regina Carter and toured the U.S., Europe, South America and the Caribbean in support of her recording I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey.
Harper’s projects as a leader include The Onus, the piano-clarinet duo Into Something and the C3 Project, an octet that presents multi-media work that include dance, video and poetry. His groups are acclaimed for their “poise and maturity” and “the empathy Harper and cohorts have developed over… years of working together.” As a composer, Harper has published and recorded over two dozen works. He has written a film score for the award-winning documentary film Herskovits: At the Heart of Blackness and commissions for choreographers Li Chiao-Ping and Ingo Taleb Rashid and visual artists Peter Bruun and Elisa Jimenez. Harper has been recognized by critics for his “incisive arrangements” and “richly melodic and…refreshingly inventive” writing.
Harper earned a doctorate in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory and an M.M. in Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, where he was awarded the Ralph Bunche Fellowship. He earned a B.A. in Music from Amherst College from which he graduated summa cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Harper is currently on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA where he serves as Chairman of the Department of Music and teaches Music History.