Detroit-born baritone saxophonist Alex Harding first became active in jazz circles in his youth. Early on he studied with established jazz figures Yusef Lateef and Beans Bowles and was playing gigs with Donald Byrd and Wynton Marsalis before he was out of high school. Throughout the ’90s, 2000s, and 2010s, Harding toured, performed, and recorded without pause, collaborating with countless names in both jazz and pop circles that included everyone from the Marshall Allen-led Sun Ra Arkestra to work with David Lee Roth.
Harding was born in 1967 in Detroit, Michigan. After hearing Grover Washington, Jr. as a kid, he took up tenor saxophone, eventually switching over to baritone in high school. Though sax was his primary instrument, he would occasionally double on bass clarinet. He was already performing regularly around Detroit in his teenage years while studying with local jazz greats. By his early twenties he was performing internationally. He left Detroit for New York in the early ’90s, joining Julius Hemphill’s Saxophone Sextet and performing around town with Lester Bowie, Frank Lacy, Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Group, the Mingus Big Band, and many others. He also took part in shows and festival appearances with the Sun Ra Arkestra and the Roy Hargrove Big Band. He recorded multiple albums with longtime friend pianist Lucian Ban, including 2002’s Somethin’ Holy and a 2008 collaboration between the two friends and Romanian electronic musician Silent Strike entitled 3am. In the late 2000s he joined the Broadway production of FELA!!! both in New York and on tour. He eventually returned to Detroit, but stayed incredibly active in the studio and on the road. Harding and Ban reunited in 2019 for another collaborative album, Dark Blue.