William “Billy” Hart (born November 29, 1940 in Washington, D.C.) is a jazz drummer and educator who has performed with some of the most important jazz musicians in history.
Early on Hart performed in Washington, D.C. with soul artists such as Otis Redding and Sam and Dave, and then later with Buck Hill and Shirley Horn, and was a sideman with the Montgomery Brothers (1961), Jimmy Smith (1964–1966), and Wes Montgomery (1966–1968). Hart moved to New York in 1968, where he recorded with McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul, and played with Eddie Harris, Pharoah Sanders, and Marian McPartland.
His first steady gigs of note were with Shirley Horn and Buck Hill. In the 1960’s he toured with Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, Eddie Harris, and Pharoah Sanders. In 1970 he joined Herbie Hancock’s Sextet, and after that band broke up in 1973 he joined first McCoy Tyner (two years) and then Stan Getz (four).
In the 1980’s Billy Hart was a regular with many bands and leaders: Gerry Mulligan, Billy Harper, Clark Terry, The New York Jazz Quartet, the Jazztet, Mingus Dynasty and most extensively with Quest (with David Liebman, Ritchie Beirach, and Ron McClure). In the 1990’s Hart was a member of the Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, and Tom Harrell groups, and in 1999 he began performing with the Three Tenors (Liebman, Lovano, and Michael Brecker). He is on about 500 hundred records as a sideman.
Billy Hart has recently played with jazz musicians Fred Hersch and Dave Liebman. In January 2011, he released the cd '68' — a reference to his age and the number of recordings on which he has played. The cd 'Cast The First Stone', which Hart recorded with The Cookers, was released April 12, 2011.
Hart was a member of Herbie Hancock’s sextet (1969–1973), and played with McCoy Tyner (1973–1974), Stan Getz (1974–1977), and Quest (1980s), in addition to extensive freelance playing (including recording with Miles Davis on 1972’s On the Corner).
At age 76, Billy Hart works steadily and teaches widely. Since the early 1990s Hart spends considerable time at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and is adjunct faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music and Western Michigan University. He also conducts private lessons through The New School and New York University. Hart often contributes to the Stokes Forest Music Camp and the Dworp Summer Jazz Clinic in Belgium.
He leads the Billy Hart Quartet with Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson, and Ben Street, which has released two albums on ECM Records.
Hart resides in Montclair, New Jersey.
Billy Hart's own records include:
Enchance (1977, A&M Horizon) with Dewey Redman, Marvin “Hannibal” Peterson, Eddie Henderson, Oliver Lake, Don Pullen, Buster Williams, and Dave Holland
Such Great Friends (1983, Strata East) with Billy Harper, Stanley Cowell, and Reggie Workman.
Oshumare (1985, Gramavision) with Steve Coleman, Branford Marsalis, Didier Lockwood, Kenny Kirkland, Bill Frisell, Kevin Eubanks, Mark Grey, and Dave Holland
Great Friends (1986, Evidence) with Sonny Fortune, Billy Harper, Stanley Cowell, and Reggie Workman
Rah (1987, Gramavision) with Dave Liebman, Kenny Kirkland, Eddie Henderson, Ralph Moore, Kevin Eubanks, Bill Frisell, Mark Grey, Eddie Gomez, Buster Williams, and Caris Visentin
Amethyst (1993, Arabesque) with John Stubblefield, Mark Feldman, David Fiuczynski, David Kikoski, Marc Copland, and Santi Debriano
Oceans of Time (1996, Arabesque) with John Stubblefield, Chris Potter, Mark Feldman, David Fiuczynski, David Kikoski, and Santi Debriano
Since the early 1990’s Billy Hart has devoted a lot of time to teaching.
He spends considerable time at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, but he is also adjunct faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music and Western Michigan University.
He also teaches private lessons through The New School and New York University, and often contributes to the Stokes Forest Music Camp and the Dworp Summer Jazz Clinic in Belgium.
Billy Hart plays Pearl Drums and Zildjian cymbals.