A dynamic and innovative composer, bandleader and trumpeter, Bill Warfield has energized audiences, performers and writers for more than four decades. Warfield’s most recent accomplishments are Mercy Mercy Mercy, recorded on the BluJazz label by the Hell’s Kitchen Funk Orchestra in 2015 and Trumpet Story with Randy Brecker on Planet Arts Records, recorded in 2014.
These recordings are a celebration of the composer’s formative musical experiences. The two groups perform Jazz selections based on the genres of funk, Latin Jazz, and Hard Bop, all arranged by Warfield.
Bill Warfield holds an M.M. in Jazz Commercial Trumpet Performance from the Manhattan School of Music where he received the William H. Borden Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Jazz/Commercial Music, The Carmine Caruso Award for Outstanding Musicality and Trumpet Performance and the Maynard Ferguson Scholarship. In 1990 he participated in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, directed by Bob Brookmeyer and Manny Albam.
Bill started playing the trumpet at age 11 in the Baltimore County public school system. After a few years he began playing with local R & B and soul bands. Around that time, his trumpet teacher, Fred Frey, took him to a concert at the Lyric Theater by the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra. After hearing the group, Bill auditioned for it and was accepted. The Youth Orchestra rehearsed in the afternoons in downtown Baltimore and Bill spent his Saturday mornings studying “up the street” at the Peabody Conservatory Preparatory School.
As a result of several injuries related to car accidents, at the age of 18, Bill was left without front teeth and the use of a lung. Unable to play the trumpet for a brief time, he picked up a flute and started playing it to restore his wind and breathing.
He entered Peabody but left after one semester because he heard a college Jazz group under the direction of Hank Levy. He enrolled at Towson State College and studied with Hank, spending four years as a featured soloist with the Towson ensemble. The winner of the outstanding Trumpet Player Award at the Quinnipiac College Jazz Festival in 1973, Bill decided that a career as a Jazz Trumpeter was what he wanted. He began frequenting the Jazz clubs in downtown Baltimore and immersed himself in the local jazz scene, performing regularly with musicians such as Sonny Stitt, Mickey Fields, Jimmy Wells and Charles Covington.
Bill left Towson in 1975, but returned as a featured soloist with the Towson Band on their Music Minus One recording 2 + 2 = 5. His feature solo on Levy’s composition “Stillness Runs Deep” was chosen by the National Association of Jazz Educators as one of the top college Jazz recordings that year and can be heard on “Project One". After a few years of performing with local touring bands, Bill was hired by the City of Baltimore to perform and eventually direct the Port City Jazz Ensemble. He used the time with Port City to practice, save, and prepare to move to New York.