You'll have to look long and hard to find a better tenor saxophonist than Dan Willis.
You'll have to look long and hard to find a better oboeist than Dan Willis.
Dan Willis is a wonderful soprano saxophone player. He's a terrific English horn player. His bass clarinet and piccolo playing is fine. He's more than competent with more obscure ethnic instruments such as zirna and dudek.
Perhaps most importantly, Dan Willis is a great composer. But instruments, and the musicians that play them, get pigeonholed. The oboe, says the conventional wisdom, belongs in classical music. So for the most part, Dan Willis played the oboe and English horn in contemporary classical, classical, and chamber music settings. On his jazz recordings (Dan Willis Quartet, 1998, and Hand to Mouth, 2001, both on the A- Records imprint) Willis stuck to tenor and soprano sax. Both recordings are good, featuring both Willis' fine compositions and some great New York players such as drummer John Hollenbeck, guitarist Ben Monder, and bassist Drew Gress.
AAJ Contributing Editor Paul Olson spoke with Willis about his latest release, Velvet Gentlemen (OmniTone, 2006), developing strength on a seemingly endless array of instruments, and the Pulse Collective.
Check out Dan Willis: No Longer a Divided Artist at AAJ today!
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