Getting at the Roots

When Bill graduated from Berklee College of Music in the early 70s, New American Music was still in its heyday and he was getting deep into Jazz.

But his music didn't feel potent, and he couldn't get at it. It wasn't that he couldn't swing:

"If I had any musical talent at all, it was my sense of swing. But I couldn't swing like Count Basie and Oscar Peterson, and I knew my age and lack of experience weren't the only factors. Those players were like catnip for me ... their music ignited a joy I hadn't felt since I was a child.

I came to realize that a main reason that I couldn't play like that was because I'd learned Jazz from an academic standpoint with no personal experience of its roots, and those players' sense of swing came from the roots of Jazz, the Blues."

Rooted Blues, Jazz & World Music Influences

"Like most culturally rooted music, the Blues makes statements about the difficulty of the human condition and at the same time reaches deep to express childlike happiness. It's an example of how suffering can drive you deep into yourself to look for that innate joy to transcend your pain."

Bill continued playing professionally into his early 30s when he settled down into teaching and creating a family and founded an arts nonprofit.

His interest in composing and playing returned when he traveled to Central America and heard the melodic lines and rhythms of Flamenco music. Flamenco was just the beginning. As he began weaving the essential qualities of other World styles through the Blues and Standards, his music changed considerably.

He is currently composing and heading into recording.

For some of Bill's thoughts on the Blues, go here. To read about the arts mentoring teaching approach he developed to reach and enliven students at a deep level visit Merge Education here.

Simply Soulful BluesJazz