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Bill O'Connell and The Afro Caribbean Ensemble: Wind Off The Hudson

Read "Wind Off The Hudson" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Bill O'Connell has had plenty to say with his piano in recent times, basically knocking out a session a year for the Savant imprint. And with an exploration within the solo format, a trip with an augmented trio, and ventures promoting a medium-sized conglomerate of heavy-hitters, he's certainly traversed quite an expanse there. But, as Wind Off The Hudson clearly shows, he's still got room grow. The Afro Caribbean Ensemble--his largest on-record gathering of late, and a ...

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Bill O'Connell: Monk's Cha Cha

Read "Monk's Cha Cha" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Pianist Bill O'Connell has long been valued for his blazing Latin chops, enlivening bands lead by flutist Dave Valentin and legendary conguero Mongo Santamaria as a sideman and delivering his own burning leader dates on a variety of respected imprints in recent times--Zoho, Challenge, and Savant, to name just three. He's been a steady though occasionally under-documented force in the music for decades, putting his dependable pianistic stamp on many absorbing projects, but he's never delved deeply into the art ...

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Bill O'Connell: Imagine

Read "Imagine" reviewed by John Ephland

Bill O'Connell's version of the standard “Willow Weep For Me" is one of those rare items: playing totally against type as a Latin burner with that classic, mesmerizing two-chord piano vamp, the only thing missing would be someone actually trying to sing this lament amidst the happy sprawl of players and arrangement O'Connell's dished up. Unlike other gestures into Latin-land that sprout from tune to tune with other jazz musicians, what makes Imagine notable is the combination of writing with ...

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Bill O'Connell + The Latin Jazz All-Stars: Zócalo

Read "Zócalo" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Latin jazz piano dynamo Bill O'Connell found a parallel between this gathering and Zócalo, the main plaza situated in the center of Mexico City; that square has long been a place where people meet to connect, celebrate and join together as one, and the same sense of togetherness and unity associated with that spot surrounds this recording. O'Connell and his simpatico sextet mates sizzle, swoon and soar as they explore the art of creation through communication. Sometimes ...

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Bill O'Connell: Triple Play Plus Three

Read "Triple Play Plus Three" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Pianist Bill O'Connell's Triple Play (Savant, 2008) turned traditional notions of piano trio instrumentation on their head, and this album is a logical outgrowth and expansion of that particular project. While that outing had a consistent three man line-up that married O'Connell's piano with conga drummer/percussionist Richie Flores' engaging rhythm work and the fine flute playing of Dave Valentin, Triple Play Plus Three uses Valentin's spot as a revolving hot seat. The flautist returns for three numbers, including a mellow ...

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Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody in Blue

Read "Rhapsody in Blue" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins

Don't let the title, Rhapsody in Blue, fool you. Pianist Bill O'Connell isn't doing an album-length tribute to Gershwin. The title song is just one of three covers in this ten-track set; he rest are O'Connell originals. “Monk's Cha-Cha" features alto saxophonist Steve Slagle. Dave Samuels follows O'Connell with a solo. Bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Steve Berrios and conguero Richie Flores carry the mood of this piece. After the middle solos, Slagle again takes point, while Flores mixes ...

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Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody In Blue

Read "Rhapsody In Blue" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Internationally recognized composer/pianist Bill O'Connell has long been associated with Latin jazz, having established and cemented his reputation in the genre with past recordings like Black Sand (Random Chance, 2001) and Latin Jazz Fantasy (Random Chance, 2004). However the classically trained O'Connell is also well adept at playing other forms of jazz, including hard bop and mainstream--which, he does so well on Rhapsody In Blue. Naturally, O'Connell infuses this recording with a good measure of deep Latin grooves on several ...

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Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody In Blue

Read "Rhapsody In Blue" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza

Pianist Bill O'Connell has a varied career as a musician. After studying classical music he found inspiration in jazz and salsa. He shaped his instincts for the latter with Mongo Santamaria with whom he played for two years. From there he gravitated to Sonny Rollins and Chet Baker. This wide spectrum served to expand his skills and his approach to the piano. He is as adept at hard bop and mainstream jazz as he is in Latin jazz even though ...

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Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody In Blue

Read "Rhapsody In Blue" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Pianist Bill O'Connell is no stranger to the world of Latin jazz. O'Connell has played for greats like Mongo Santamaria and Dave Valentin, but his range as an artist has taken him well beyond a Latin-only orbit. He's worked with jazz heavyweights like Sonny Rollins and Chet Baker, too, but his greatest asset isn't his résumé. O'Connell possesses a classicist's touch that, thanks to a melding of his conservatory training with his life experiences, can be altered at will. O'Connell ...

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Bill O'Connell: Triple Play

Read "Triple Play" reviewed by Douglas Payne

Following a three-decade run as a pianistic purveyor of jazz that leans occasionally toward the Latin side and six progressively interesting solo efforts, pianist Bill O'Connell's Triple Play, his first effort for the Savant label, might very well be the best thing he's ever done. Here, he's assembled a trio that includes longtime musical associate Dave Valentin on flute and percussionist Richie Flores on congas, producing a profound, heart-pounding, foot-stomping, hand-clapping document of jazz that's inventive, involving and just plain ...

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Bill O'Connell: Triple Play

Read "Triple Play" reviewed by Michael P. Gladstone

Pianist/Composer Bill O'Connell has long been a vital part of the New York Jazz scene. It is refreshing to see that he is given a rare opportunity to lead an ensemble on Triple Play, an unusual trio setting for O'Connell along with flutist Dave Valentin and Latin percussionist Richie Flores.

O'Connell has only been given this opportunity sporadically and his efforts are preserved on indie labels, Inner City, CTI and two sessions for Random Chance. The pianist has ...

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Bill O'Connell: Latin Jazz Fantasy

Read "Latin Jazz Fantasy" reviewed by Aaron Rogers

Latin Jazz Fantasy is the second event of its kind by pianist Bill O'Connell on Random Chance Records. O'Connell is no stranger to playing in Afro-Caribbean style; he played with Latin jazz greats like saxophonist Gato Barbieri and percussionist Mongo Santamaria. O'Connell's Latin Jazz Fantasy features ten original compositions by O'Connell that glisten with Latin rhythms and percussion in front of an orchestral backdrop.

The opening track “Barcelona" has an Afro-Cuban beat, but as the strings come in, the song ...


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