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Billy Kilson: Billy's Groove

Katrina-Kasey Wheeler By

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AAJ: Absolutely, the fans keep coming back for more. You are working on an instructional DVD. How is that coming along?

BK: We are in the editing stage.

AAJ: Has it been a daunting task?

BK: I had no idea that it would be as daunting as it has been. Once I started the process of analyzing myself—that can be tricky. I definitely enjoyed this project.

AAJ: Obviously the education to obtain the skills to play an instrument is crucial. One can go to the finest school and hone their craft; however, is it the hunger, and the ear, that creates greatness?

BK: In a way, I was lucky to start a little later; the whole ten year overnight success—so to speak. I paid a lot of dues. I played with many different types of bandleaders within various genres, and there are a lot of different types of personalities involved, as well as the clientèle. In the beginning it helps to get booed, it helps to build a certain character. I remember playing at hotels and thinking, "I'm never going to have a chance to travel because I'm playing at this hotel." But looking back and having someone yell at me saying, "What are you doing, I'm trying to dance," or "That's cool!" That helped me in a way to hone the skills that I am using now. So all those experiences including the things that I learned from Alan [Dawson], and from playing wedding gigs, and gigs in and outside of the Washington D.C. area, and doing other gigs here and there—lump that into a bowl, mix it up, throw it into a funnel and that's me.

AAJ: That is all part of the process. The music industry is not for the faint of heart. It absolutely takes persistence and a certain frame of mind that doesn't include any possibility of failure. Certainly it was wonderful to study under someone like Alan Dawson. I remember reading a quote of his and I think it is a great mantra for any musician: "I don't think there is such a thing as having too much knowledge. On the other hand, I don't think that the mere fact that you know how to play something is a reason to play it."

BK: Definitely.

AAJ: Pots & Pans (Aspirion, 2006) has been really well received. With your hectic schedule, do you plan to head into the studio anytime soon?

BK: Not immediately because I will be releasing the DVD first. I am very excited at how the CD has been received. It is so different from performing live because that is instantaneous gratification, but when you do a studio project, you have no idea how the audience is going to receive it. I'm flattered that most people like it and they get it. It means a lot to me.

Selected Discography:

Billy Kilson, Pots & Pans (Aspirion, 2006)

Chris Botti, To Love Again (Columbia, 2005)

Dave Holland, Overtime (Sunny Side, 2005)

Michael Franks,Watching the Snow (Rhino / Wea, 2004)

Chris Botti, When I Fall in Love (Columbia, 2004)

Spyro Gyra, Deep End (Heads Up, 2004)

Bob James, Take It from the Top (JVC Japan, 2003)

Larry Carlton, Sapphire Blue (JVC Victor, 2003)

Steve Wilson, Soulful Song (Max Jazz Records, 2003)

Donald Brown Trio, Autumn in New York (Columbia, 2002)

Carla Cook, Simply Natural (Max Jazz Records, 2002)

Dave Holland Big Band, What Goes Around (Universal/Polygram, 2002)

Joe Locke, State of Soul (Sirocco Jazz Limited, 2002)

Philip Bailey, Soul on Jazz (Heads Up, 2002)

Dave Holland Quintet, Not for Nothin' (Ecm Records, 2001)

Bob James, Restoration: The Best of Bob James (Warner Bros / Wea, 2001)

Mike Gibbs, Nonsequence (Provocateur Records, 2001)

BK Groove, While Ur Sleepin' (BK Groove Publishing BMI, 2001)

Dave Holland Quintet Prime Directive (Ecm Records, 2000)

Bob James, Joyride (Warner Bros / Wea, 1999)

Bill Evans, Escape (Escapade, 1996)

Diane Reeves, Art & Survival (Capitol, 1994)

Billy Childs, Portrait of a Player (Windham Hill Records, 1993)

Terence Blanchard, Simply Stated (Sony, 1992)

Diane Reeves, I Remember (Blue Note Records, 1991)


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