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Bill Pierce

Pierce, William (Watson), saxophonist and educator; b. Hampton, Va, September 25, 1948.

Bill was raised in Jacksonville and Miami, Fl. His parents, Frances and William, Sr. were educators. Bill began saxophone lessons in public school. In his senior year he took oboe lessons at the university of Miami. He attended Tennessee State University for two years. He transferred to Berklee College of Music in 1968, graduating in 1972.

Bill began performing in the early 70's in Boston while a student, appearing with artists such as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. In 1980, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, serving as musical director and sharing the bandstand with other young talents including Bobby Watson, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and Donald Harrison. After three years of recording and touring with Blakey, Bill returned to Berklee, where he became an Associate Professor in the Woodwind Department. During this time he was active in both the Boston and New York scenes and regularly performed with the Freddie Hubbard quintet.

In 1985 Bill joined the Tony Williams Quintet. He made five recordings with Mr. Williams and toured Europe, Asia, and America. Since 1986 he has divided his time between academia, performing, and recording under his own name for the Sunnyside label: William the Conqueror , Give and Take, Equilateral , One For Chuck and Rio. More recently, he has recorded Epistrophy (Evidence Records), Froggin' Around (CIMP), and Burnin''(Criss Cross). Bill is also featured on Tony Williams' last quintet release, Tokyo Live (Blue Note Records).

In 1997 Bill was appointed chairman of the woodwind department at Berklee College. Bill has been a member of the Kevin Eubanks quartet since 1999. The group has released five recordings including, "Soweto Sun", “Live”, “Genesis”,“Shrine” (Insoul Music) and "Zen Food" (Mack Avenue Music). Bill Pierce has performed and recorded with numerous jazz legends including Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Art Farmer, Hank Jones, Billy Higgins, and Art Blakey.

Bill has released recordings of his own group and has been featured at many major American, Japanese, and European jazz festivals. Bill Pierce is an internationally recognized educator who has presented clinics in Europe, Asia, and South America as well as throughout the United States.


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Album Review

Ralph Peterson & the Messenger Legacy: Onward & Upward

Read "Onward & Upward" reviewed by Paul Rauch


Generally speaking, legacy bands are created to preserve the music of an artist. They feature innovative interpretations of an artist's compositions or past performances to share with future generations of listeners. In the case of drummer Ralph Peterson, his ambitious efforts to honor the continuum of his mentor Art Blakey are forward thinking, about a collective gathering of resources that stress creative thought and individuality. Just as the true legacy of the Jazz Messengers portends, contributors are charged with replenishing ...

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Onward & Upward

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