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). Following Montgomery’s death in 1968, Hart moved to New York, where he recorded with McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul, and played with Eddie Harris, Pharoah Sanders, and Marian McPartland.
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 73, 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 a group with Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson, and Ben Street.
Hart resides in Montclair, New Jersey.
Interviews and selected press
The majestic drummer Billy Hart brought his extraordinary ability to both respond to and spontaneously shape a band’s conception to three performances with three different groups. Freedom, discipline, daring, passion, swing, broken rhythm, orchestral textures, interactive sparring, shocking dynamics, astounding creativity and authority. Want to know what jazz is really about? Listen to Billy Hart.
-Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press
More information about the Billy Hart Quartet at Do The Math
An interview with biographical information, by Ted Panken for Jazz Times