J. D. Parran is an American multi-woodwind player, educator, and composer specializing in jazz and free improvised music. He plays the soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophone, as well as the E-flat clarinet, clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, flute, piccolo, alto flute, bamboo flute, Native American flute, bamboo saxophone, and nagaswaram. Parran possesses a virtuosic technique and mastery over a number of extended techniques for these instruments.
Parran spent his college years in the St. Louis, Missouri area, where he attended Webster University and received an M.A. degree in music education from Washington University in St. Louis. While a university student, he joined the Black Artists' Group along with Hamiet Bluiett and others. He has lived in New York since 1971, and has served as chairman of the music department and the director of Jazz and African American Music Studies at The Harlem School of the Arts. He also teaches at the City University of New York and Greenwich House Music School.
Parran has recorded with Stevie Wonder and John Lennon. For fifteen years he was a member of the experimental woodwind trio New Winds (with Robert Dick and Ned Rothenberg, and is a longtime member of Anthony Davis's Episteme ensemble. He also performs and records with Anthony Braxton's ensembles and has collaborated with Leroy Jenkins, Hamiet Bluiett, Douglas Ewart, John Lindberg, Peter Brötzmann, and the free improvisation group Company, which included Derek Bailey, Jon Corbett, Hugh Davies, Jamie Muir, Evan Parker, Vinko Globokar, and Joëlle Léandre.