Billy Hart

  • Associate Professor of Jazz Percussion

Areas of Study


  • Studied at Howard University


Billy Hart was born in Washington, D.C., on November 29, 1940. His first steady gigs of note were with Shirley Horn and Buck Hill. In the 1960s, he toured with Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, Eddie Harris, and Pharoah Sanders, and recorded with McCoy Tyner, Joe Zawinul, and Wayne Shorter. 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 1980s, 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 1990s, 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 roughly 500 records as a sideman.

Since the early 1990s, Hart has devoted much of his time to teaching, particularly at Oberlin. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music and Western Michigan University. He teaches private lessons through the New School and New York University, and he contributes to the Stokes Forest Music Camp and the Dworp Summer Jazz Clinic in Belgium.

Currently, Hart leads a group with Ben Street, Mark Turner, and Ethan Iverson, and is a featured member in the trios of guitarist Assaf Kehati and pianist Jean-Michel Pilc. He was named an NEA Jazz Master for 2022.

  • Author, Jazz Drumming, Advance Music
  • Listed, Encyclopedia of Jazz

  • 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.
  • Firebird, with the Western Jazz Quartet.
  • Oceans of Time, Arabesque Recordings.

Spring 2024

Principal Private Study - Jazz Drums — PVST 031
Secondary Private Study - Jazz Drums — PVST 081

Fall 2024

Principal Private Study - Jazz Drums — PVST 031
Secondary Private Study - Jazz Drums — PVST 081

For assistance in contacting Billy Hart, please email


Jazz Percussion Professor Billy Hart Named NEA Jazz Master

July 22, 2021

Billy Hart, the conservatory's longtime associate professor of jazz percussion, was named a 2022 Jazz Master. This is the nation’s highest honor for jazz musicians, bestowed annually by the National Endowment for the Arts. He will be honored at the Jazz Masters Tribute Concert on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

A member of Oberlin's faculty since 2000, Hart has performed on more than 600 recordings. This June he released the album All Things Are (Smoke Sessions Records) alongside pianist Kevin Hays and bassist Ben Street. It was recorded live—for a streaming audience, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic—at New York’s Smoke Jazz & Supper Club in December 2020.


Gary Bartz Named NEA Jazz Master for 2024

August 17, 2023

Oberlin’s Grammy Award-winning professor of jazz saxophone has been named a 2024 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest honor conferred to jazz musicians.