Raquetball Jazz: Saxman Everette Harp Gets Metaphorical

In a recent interview, former Houstonian Everette Harp poked at the music business with a fork called perspective. He's playing a benefit concert for the non-profit Musiqa this Wednesday at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall along with Bobby Lyle and Jade Simmons.

"America is very age-conscious. The youth looks at anything over 25: 'Oh they're too old,'" Harp says.

So in a nation of Bieber-obsessed tweens and countless one-hit wonders, in what Harp says can often, especially in pop, be "a career life span of one record," how does the 49-year-old survive?

He hits Europe.

He just returned from Monte Carlo, the last stop of a one-year tour with Eros Ramazzotti---a completely over-the-hill Italian pop sensation. So what gives?

"In most countries outside the U.S., artists aren't disposed of after a period of time. If they have established careers, the audience is loyal. We lead the world in so many things, as far as appreciating culture and music, but America could reverse our current trends, look at what we already have---what should be seen as treasures. I probably sound like an old guy saying that," he added, laughing.

It's not like Harp can't get a gig at home. He routinely sells out concerts all over the country and has recorded eight albums (the initial two covers for which we couldn't help but point out his luscious ponytail/mullet). So how has performing changed over the years?

"In my early career, there was so much energy and angst in my playing. I was known for my fast and furious force. Through the progression of my records, I am learning to express myself with colors (metaphorically) and different ideas, but in a better way. The same way Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi won later in their [tennis] careers without having to run all over the court."

In a recent interview on NPR, 62-year-old Robert Plant reflected on his latest record as an "adventure in restraint." We asked Harp if he could relate.

"Yeah. When you're younger, everything is flash. Then there's a progression that happens, a maturity that makes you focus on more substance, less flash. You've learned how to do things more economically. When I was young, I tried to play everything. Now I just play the important stuff."

He keeps up the racquet-sports metaphor----but we think it works ...

"I used to play a lot of racquetball, I was runner up to the champion in my college - thin and wiry. I lost to an older, larger guy. The reason I lost was because I was smashing, hitting, smashing, hitting, and he stayed right in the middle of the floor and just leaned. He directed his shots, purposefully and deliberately. He beat me because he wore me out. That's youth, youth versus maturity."

(Harp performs this Wed. Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall. Get tickets.)

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