Bill Horvitz

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Primary Instrument: Guitar

Born: May 12, 1947    

Bill Horvitz

Bill Horvitz has spent more than 30 years pursuing ways to combine composition and improvisation and to expand the voice of the guitar with both traditional and innovative techniques. He has led both large and small ensembles and has worked with many remarkable musicians, composers and improvisers. His guitar playing has been compared to John McLaughlin, Sonny Sharrock, Jimmy Page, Roger McGuinn, Dave Van Ronk, John Fahey, and Robert Fripp. Critics have described his music as “meditative, sizzling, earthy, funky, joyous, brooding, gorgeous, serene, and kinetically charged.” He currently leads and composes for the Bill Horvitz Expanded Band, a 17- member conducted ensemble that will release it’s first recording, The Long Walk, in 2012...
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“Horvitz infuses his jazz compositions with the tunefulness and economy of rock, ‘60s R&B, and calypso, synthesizing these influences into his own sizzling, concise style. . . . a rare balance between free jazz and (uncompromised) accessibility.” MARK KERESMAN-EXPRESS, Berkeley, CA

“. . . the band embodies an earthy, sweaty aura with chops and humor to match.” T. SEDLAK, OPTION MAGAZINE

“. . .powerful and unpredictable originals deliver a sound-spattered session rife with skewed rhythmic dynamics, spontaneous surprises, and boundary- pushing improvisations. . .tasteful, sophisticated, yet urgent approach to melody, harmony, and rhythm. Dust Devil whirls with exciting musical blends to satisfy the most adventurous listener.” NANCY ANN LEE, JAZZ TIMES

“ . . . Horvitz has been working on the rugged fringes of guitar culture. . . making music that benefits from the confusing embarrassment of riches facing any open-minded modern jazz player. . . antic, angular themes to wide open spaces . . . kinetically charged.” JOSEF WOODARD, JAZZIZ MAGAZINE

“funky bite. . .strong rapport. . . joyous artistry. . . brooding lyricism. . .dramatic suspense. This excellent session showcases funk fusion stripped to its dynamic essence. Highly recommended.” DAVID LEWIS, CADENCE MAGAZINE

“An intriguing composer and a pliant melodicist. While his music might be free jazz, it’s not free form; it’s exceptionally well organized . . . each tune has a personality and life of its own.” CHRIS KELSEY-JAZZ NOW, Oakland, CA

“A major innovator in guitar music . . . a Zen master's intuitive certainty . . . few musicians can make abstract music this gorgeous.” ALEX VARTY-GEORGIA STRAIGHT, Vancouver, BC

“A superb demonstration of structure and expression . . . a model for postminimal improvisation.” KYLE GANN-VILLAGE VOICE, NYC

“A mix of melody, fracture, and structure . . . an all-star big band.” JON PARELES-NEW YORK TIMES (The Bill Horvitz Ensemble)

REVIEWS FULL TEXT Dust Devil The Bill Horvitz Band (Music & Arts) By Glenn Astarita While spending many years in New York City, guitarist Bill Horvitz (Wayne Horvitz’ brother) performed with new music renegades such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Bill Laswell, Shelley Hirsch, Eugene Chadbourne and many others. Currently, Mr. Horvitz exhibits his creative juices in Northern California while managing to delve into a variety of frameworks and settings, yet his Trio featuring ROVA’s woodwind virtuoso Steve Adams and the estimable drummer, Joesph Sabella have been on the receiving end of praise for quite some time now. With Dust Devil, Horvitz fronts a compact unit that gushes with artistic expressionism while providing an abundance of good- natured fun along the way. Pieces such as “Busy Mind” and “Watch Your Back” explode with choruses that at times, could be derived from a Beethoven opus as the musicians seemingly mangle, deconstruct and transform these themes into hard edged free-jazz and/or jazz-rock motifs. Needless to state, Horvitz appears to be an astute student of the classics. - With that and prominent doses of rock-funk backbeats, abrupt shifts in tempo and spirited soloing by Horvitz and saxophonist/flutist Steve Adams, the band playfully reworks melodies and improvises atop well-structured compositions. Throughout, the guitarist burns both ends of the candle whether rocking out with fuzz-toned distortion or displaying deft and often complex single note, jazz-based runs. On “Watch Your Back”, Adams punishes his soprano sax while embarking on a fleeting solo excursion amid Joseph Sabella’s sinewy yet flexible rhythmic support as the absence of a bassist is barely noticeable thanks to Horvitz’ mid-toned harmonics and lower register picking. The composition titled, “Tic” boasts a free-rock type groove amid a – stop and go – motif while the band settles down on the Caribbean influenced “Guadeloupe”. Along with a few tasty spurts of semi-controlled mayhem, the musicians offer the complete package while exploring areas that many would consider a bit unique or divergent for this type of “new music” – power trio – format. Here, the restless spirit and thirst for ingenuity prevails as Dust Devil is a welcome surprise and a jubilant listening experience! Highly recommended. * * * * 1/2 (out of * * * * *) 2001 Personnel: Bill Horvitz; Guitar: Steve Adams; Soprano, Alto & Tenor Saxophones, Bass Flute: Joseph Sabella; Drums Visit The Music and Arts website at: Artist The Bill Horvitz Band Album Title Dust Devil Date of Release Jul 15, 1997 AMG Rating 4 stars Genre Jazz The surprising part about this CD is that it is not more avant-garde, considering the musicians who are involved. Multi-reedist Steve Adams is one of the founders of Rova, Bill Horvitz has long been one of the most adventurous of jazz guitarists, and drummer Joseph Sabella has played with Derek Bailey, John Zorn, and Vinny Golia. As a trio, they perform fairly melodically on some of the eight originals (seven by Horvitz), building up their improvisations slowly and logically. Ballads (”Dust Devil” and the haunting “Occurs to Me”) alternate with more fiery improvs (”Watch Your Back” and the rockish “Tic”), with the catchy “Guadeloupe” being a highlight. Horvitz is such a complete player that one does not notice the lack of a bassist. The versatile Adams switches between his reeds, adding variety to the ensembles, while Sabella is very attentive, supportive, and stimulating. The musicians let the music breathe and the result is a superior disc well worth several listens. — Scott Yanow

Dust Devil

Building on eight powerful and unpredictable originals by leader-guitarist Bill Horvitz, this Northern California trio with saxist Steve Adams (from ROVA) and veteran drummer Joseph Sabella, delivers a sound-splattered session rife with skewed rhythmic dynamics, spontaneous surprises, and boundary-pushing improvisations. Less boisterous than Frisco-based Splatter Trio, this band harbors a tasteful, sophisticated, yet urgent approach to melody, harmony, and rhythm. Dust Devil whirls with exciting musical blends to satisfy the most adventurous listener. Nancy Ann Lee Jazz Times

Dust Devil (Music and Arts) Guitarist Bill Horvitz has been working on the rugged fringes of guitar culture for several years now, making music that benefits from the confusing embarrassment of riches facing any open0minded modern jazz player. Based in the Bay Area, Horvitz has found worthy allies in alto saxist Steve Adams — who also plays with the Rova Saxophone Quartet — and drummer Joseph Sabella. Like Horvitz, both are well-versed in diversity, and they roll with the changes of Horvitz’ quirky compositions. Horvitz doesn’t swing in the traditional sense, but instead comes at the music with an intensity sometimes reminiscent of Sonny Sharrock. Dust Devil opens with “Busy Mind,” which ventures from antic, angular themes to wide-open spaces, with Horvitz’ doubled octaves providing a phantom-bass presence. “Tic,” composed by Adams, bears its own kinetically charged charms, which contrast nicely with say, the collapsed calypso of “Guadeloupe” or the slow exultation of the closing track, “The Lakes.” Josef Woodard Jazziz Magazine

Dust Devil Although guitarist Horvitz has played with such improvisers as Butch Morris, Elliott Sharp, and John Zorn, this trio recording finds his group stretching out. Joined by drummer Joseph Sabella and reed player Steve Adams (on loan from the ROVA saxophone quartet), the Horvitz band uses each of the eight tracks of Dust Devil to explore something distinct from the rest. The expansive night music of “Occurs to Me” leaves plenty of space for the players to imply landscapes both physical and spiritual. Sensuous flute work from Adams is complemented by long, staid notes from Horvitz, whose playing suggests Bill Frisell from time to time. On the other hand, “Tic” could hardly be more different in its mix of tumultuous drumming, blaring sax honks and dense guitar noise that ought to befriend admirers of Sonny Sharrock. The three are unafraid to latch onto a groove from time to time, as in the wacky rock-steady riffs and flighty melodic fun of “Guadeloupe.” The title track patches many of their interests into a single quilt, effortlessly wandering to and from a jittery funk, an Arabic-flavored saxophone solo and a sparse middle section that evokes the hazy quietude of the desert. Though their leanings toward funk might have benefited from more teeth, even on the more heady pieces the band embodies and earthy, sweaty aura with chops and humor to match. T. Sedlak Option Magazine

Bill Horvitz Band Live at Roulette, NYC Roulette recently played host to a performance by San Francisco Bay Area guitarist Bill Horvitz and his trio. Horvitz’s music is typical of the kind normally heard at Roulette—transcending classification, uncompromising in conception, and demanding of both listener and performer. Horvitz had with him the very fine saxophonist Steve Adams, best known for his work with the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and the drummer Joe Sabella, with whose work I had been unfamiliar. Adams is an aggressive and expressive, yet ultimately very self-controlled improviser. He plays with a small, tight vibrato; his articulation and phrasing are unusually clean for a free player, and his use of tonal shading is sparing but effective. Sabella really opened my eyes. Throughout the concert he was, by design, the trio’s freest contributor. While the compositions tended to call for a certain amount of restraint on the part of Horvitz and Adams, Sabella was given a bit more latitude to complement the music’s melodic and harmonic components, which he did to near perfection and without abusing the privilege. Horvitz himself was an intriguing composer and a pliant melodicist. While his music might be free jazz, it’s not free form; it’s exceptionally well organized, often with chords or modes to play on and structures to be negotiated. Each tune had a personality and a life of its own, from the boppish unisons and serialist ostinatos of “Busy Mind,” to the gentle lyricism of the ballad “Heart Rumors.” The latter was a particular highlight, as Sabella used a pair of mallets to accent the tune’s gentle contours and counter the dialogue between Adams and Horvitz. The guitarist himself is a forthright melodic improviser. Horvitz’s lines are crafted with the same careful consideration that he gives his compositions. Horvitz is hardly given to excessive ornamentation; he’s an appealingly direct soloist. A very nice concert and further proof of the excellence of the Northern California free jazz scene. Chris Kelsey Jazz Now

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Primary Instrument:

Forestville, CA

Willing to teach:

Private guitar lessons where you have fun while learning how to: play jazz chords arrange chord-melodies fingerpick and flat pick play the songs you want to play (folk, blues, rock) improvise solos in any style jam with other musicians. accompany singers develop performance skills. understand harmony and theory ALSO: I am now teaching ongoing small classes in performance, six weeks for five people to play for each other, learn to give feedback, how to prepare for performing, how to set up a song, how to understand what makes us nervous, how to connect with an audience, and more.

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