Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Easley, Bill, Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet, and Bass Clarinet, Flute, Alto Flute and piccolo; b. Olean, NY, 13 January 1946.Easley has had a versatile career, as a professional musician, spanning more than forty years. In recent years he has played in bands led by such notables as Ruth Brown, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Louie Bellson, Nicholas Payton, Charles McPherson, James Williams, Roland Hanna, Earl May, Illinois Jaquet, Ron Carter, Frank Foster, Mercer Ellington, Panama Francis and Grady Tate among many others.
Bill Easley started playing professionally in 1959 with his parents at the age of thirteen. The Bob Easley Combo played country clubs, dances, and nightclubs in and around his hometown of Olean, N.Y. This early experience gave him the foundation on which to build a long and rewarding career.
He moved to New York City in Sept. of 1964. He was a part time student at the Julliard School of Music while getting his feet wet in the uptown Jazz Scene. The U.S. Draft Board had other plans and Bill did his military service with the 9th Army Band in Fairbanks Alaska.
Easley joined The George Benson Quartet in Jan. of 1968 and traveled with the great guitarist for the remainder of the decade. This band worked in such legendary jazz spots as Minton's Playhouse in N.Y., The Plugged Nickel in Chicago, The Jazz Workshop in Boston, and The Hurricane in Pittsburgh.
After a brief residence in Pittsburgh, Pa., Easley followed his instincts to Memphis Tenn. In Memphis he did a variety of things including: performing and recording with Isaac Hayes, other studio work, big bands, show bands, and jazz clubs. He also continued his formal education at Memphis State University. It was in the mid 1970s that Easley first toured with the Duke Ellington Orch. under the direction of Mercer Ellington. In January of 1980 Bill moved back to N.Y.C., with the promise of a job on Broadway
His Broadway Credits include; Sophisticated Ladies, The Wiz, Black and Blue, Jelly's Last Jam, Play On, Fosse, and most recently, The Wild Party.
Bill has been a part of the Jazz Repertory Movement, playing in The American Jazz Orch., (John Lewis) The Smithsonian Jazz Orch., (David Baker) and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orch.(Wynton Marsalis) He was a guest soloist with The Carnegie Hall Jazz Orch.(Jon Faddis) in it's tribute to Benny Goodman on Nov. 21, 1993.
St. Bonaventure University, which is near Olean, NY, presented its first Artist's Award to Bill Easley on April 19, 1997. The last few years have been spent doing a combination of all the fore mentioned activities; working on Broadway, recording, touring and playing with fine musicians. As of July 6th 2002 Bill is in the Orchestra of Harlem Song at the Apollo Theater.
He toured the United States and Europe with Nicholas Payton from July 1, 2000 to March 1, 2002. He was featured artist at the Pine Grill Reunion Concert (Buffalo N.Y.) on August 4, 2002. He was guest artist with Columbus Jazz Orchestra Feb. 12 - 17, 2002. He played at the Bern Switzerland) Jazz Festival with Warren Vache May 1 - 5 2002. He did a cruise with the Frank Foster Big Band playing Lead alto. He also played for the Musical Theater show, Three Mo Tenors. He was an artist in residence (Schenectady NY) April 2 - 5, 2002. He also works as bandleader doing clubs and concerts in and out of New York.
First Call (1991); Wind Inventions (1996); Easley Said (1997)
Selected recordings as sideperson:
Charles Earland: Front Burner (1990); Ruth Brown: Fine and Mellow (1991); Grady Tate: TNT (1991); Jimmy McGriff: Blue to the 'Bone (1991); Black and Blue: Original Broadway Cast (1992); Jazz at Lincoln Center: Portraits by Ellington (1992); Jelly's Last Jam: Original Broadway Cast (1994); Dakota Staton: Darling Please Save Your Love (1994); Jazz at Lincoln Center: They Came to Swing Released (1994), The Fire of the Fundamentals (1994); James Williams: Alter Ego (1995), Progress Report (1995); Carol Sloane: The Songs Sinatra Sang (1996); Phyllis Hyman: Legacy of Phyllis Hyman (1996); Bill Mobley: Triple Bill (1996); Dee Dee Bridgewater: Dear Ella (1997); Sir Roland Hanna: Plays Gershwin (1997); Carmen Bradford: Finally Yours (1997); Cynthia Crane: Cynthia's In Love (1997); Jazz Piano Anthology (1997), Jazz Piano Anthology: The Magic Touch (1997); Houston Person: Christmas with Houston Person & Etta James (1997); Bobby Watson: The Year of the Rabbit (1998); Isaac Hayes: Chocolate Chip (1998); Essential Jazz Ballads Vol. 3 (1998); Phyllis Hyman: One on One (1998); Memphis Convention (1998); Jon Faddis: Remembrances (1998); Fosse: Original Broadway Cast (1999); Ruth Brown: Good Day for the Blues (1999); Al Green: Have a Good Time (1999); Geoff Keezer: Other Spheres (1999); Fish-Tree-Water Blues (1999); Ann Peebles: If This Is Heaven (1999); David Berger: Sultans of Swing: Harlem Nutcracker (1999); Drums Project on the 4 (1999); The Best Of Ken Burns Jazz (2000); Isaac Hayes: Ultimate Collection (2000); Al Green: The Hi Singles: A's and B's (2000); Jimmy McGriff: McGriff's House Party (2000), Feelin' It (2001); Chris Connor: Haunted Heart (2001); Nicholas Payton: Dear Louis (2001); Time Remembered: LRC Jazz Legacy Anthology (2001); Harold Mabern: The Leading Man (2001); Carol Sloane: Ballad Essentials (2001), I Never Went Away (2001); ; LRC Jazz Legacy Anthology: A Kiss to Build a Dream (2001); Maya the Bee (2001); Jimmy Witherspoon: The Definitive Black and Blue Sessions (2002); Jazz For Singers And Dreamers (2002); Jimmy McGriff: McGriff Avenue (2002); Isaac Hayes: Groove-A-Thon (2002); Donald Brown: Enchante (2001); Harlem Song: Original Cast Album (2002); Chris Connor: I Walk With Music (2002); Winter Dreams: The Life and Passions of F. Scott Fitzgerald Nancy Harrow (2003)
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