Bill Perkins was essentially a West Coast jazz musician, but
in his varied career worked with music legends like Woody
Herman, Stan Kenton, Art Pepper, Duke Ellington's band,
and with Victor Feldman played on some of Steely Dan's
legendary albums. A large part of his career was spent,
playing with Doc Severinsen's Tonight Show Band for nearly
twenty five years.
Bill Perkins is one of the outstanding members of the legion
of technically gifted and musically inspired tenor players who
emerged at the beginning of the fifties. He was a hit with
Kenton, and it is perhaps no coincidence that all of Kenton's
recordings that feature Perkins are good ones and they
remain as fresh today as when they were recorded.
Similarly his work on some of Woody Herman's recordings
from that time have achieved classic status, where his
soloing is a showcase of delicacy and form.
Perkins recorded little under his own name, with notable
exceptions as in “On Stage"The Bill Perkins Octet” (Vogue)
which has him leading Bud Shank, Jack Nimitz, Carl
Fontana, Stu Williamson, Russ Freeman, Red Mitchell and
Mel Lewis, and “Journey To The East,” recorded 28 years
later in 1984 (Contemporary) where the Lester Young
influence, which has always affected his playing so strongly,
is diverted by a palpable injection of Sonny Rollins