Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Pierce, Bill (William Watson)

Pierce, Bill (William Watson), saxophonist and educator; b. Hampton, VA, 25 September 1948. (He is often called Billy but prefers Bill.) Bill was raised in Jacksonville and Miami, FL. His parents, Frances and William, Sr. were educators.

Bill began saxophone lessons in public school. In his senior year he took oboe lessons at the university of Miami. He attended Tennessee State University for two years. He transferred to Berklee College of Music in 1968, graduating in 1972. Bill began performing in the early 70's in Boston while a student, appearing with artists such as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. In 1980, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, serving as musical director and sharing the bandstand with other young talents including Bobby Watson, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and Donald Harrison.

After three years of recording and touring with Blakey, Bill returned to Berklee, where he became an Associate Professor in the Woodwind Department. During this time he was active in both the Boston and New York scenes and regularly performed with the Freddie Hubbard quintet. In 1985 Bill joined the Tony Williams Quintet. He made five recordings with Williams and toured Europe, Asia, and America.

Since 1986 he has divided his time between academia, performing, and recording under his own name for the Sunnyside label. In 1997 Bill was appointed chairman of the woodwind department at Berklee College. Bill has been a member of the Kevin Eubanks quartet since 1999. Pierce has performed and recorded with numerous jazz legends including Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Art Farmer, Hank Jones, Billy Higgins, and Art Blakey. Bill has released recordings of his own group and has been featured at many major American, Japanese, and European jazz festivals.  Pierce is an internationally recognized educator who has presented clinics in Europe, Asia, and South America as well as throughout the United States.

William the Conqueror; Give and Take; Equilateral; One For Chuck; Rollin Monk; Rio (Ballads and Bossa Novas); Episthrophy; Frogging Around; Burnin' (with Javon Jackson); Live at Sundown
As sideperson:
Art Blakey: Keystone 3, Straight Ahead, Album if the Year, Live at Montreux, Oh! By the Way, Live in Sweden, Live at Bubba's, Live in East Berlin, The Sound of Jazz, Art Collection;
James Williams: Attitudes of an Every Day Man, Meets The Tenor Masters, Alter Ego, Flying Colors, Everything I Love, Images (Of Things to Come), Progress Report, Up to the Minute Blues,
Talkin Trash featuring Clark Terry, We've got what you need, Truth, Justice & The Blues; Tony Williams: Tokyo Live, Civilization, Angel Street, Native Heart, Story of Neptune;
Makoto Ozone: Makoto Ozone; Geoff Keezer: Wating in the Wings, Other Spheres; Gary Burton: Gary Burton and the Berklee All Stars; Art Matthews: It's Easy To Remember;
Richard Hollyday: Moment's Notice; John Swana: And Friends, Introducing John Swana; Ted Pease: Big Band Blues Celebration; King Wellington (Caribbean & Calypso Music): Moving Up,
Who is King Wellington?; Stanton Davis: Brighter Days; Milt Ward: Virgo Spectrum; Maggie Scott & Naus, Hopkins Big Band: Together; Super Blue: Something Else;
Berklee College: Jazz in the Classroom # XIV; Richard Todd: New Ideas; Tony Hart: For the First Time; Stanely Cowell: Mandara Blossoms; Jeff Palmer: Shades of the Pine;
Dimock Jazz Collective: A Child is Born; Smithsoninan Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Big Band Treasures Live; Finten O'Neill Quintet: In the Moment; John Licata: John Licata & the Tenor Titans;
Jae Sinnett: Listen; Consuelo Jon Quintet: Last Sunday Morning; Bill Mobley: Live at Small's Vol 1, Live at Small's Vol 2, Triple Bill; Cecillia Smith: Volume II, High Standards; Gilson Schachnik: Raw; Alan Dawson: Waltzin with Flo; Fritz Renold: Starlight; Coltrane Memorial Concert Orch.: Coltrane's Astre: The Annual John Coltrane Concert;
Berklee Dues Band: Dues Band Reunion; Larry Finn & Anthony Vitti: The Dig; Lemuel West: In Good Company

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