Born: May 13, 1961
Bill Howland grew up in the Greater Boston area, studying with classical pianist Allen Barker of Wayland, Massachusetts. Bill continued his education in music theory at Northeastern University and later studied with jazz pianist Dick Odgren of Worcester, whose faculty appointments include Berklee College of Music and Clark University.
Bill currently resides in Charleston, SC and plays regularly at the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar at The Francis Marion Hotel.
Bill formerly resided in Brewster, Massachusetts and played at many fine venues on Cape Cod, including Chatham Bars Inn, Christian’s Restaurant, The Roadhouse Café, Oysters Too, Old Sea Pines Inn and many others....
These four CDs feature pianists who deserve to be much better known.
Bill Howland Moon Rays (Graycat Productions)
Pianist Bill Howland is based in Charleston, South Carolina. Moon Rays (information is at howlandonline.com), his second release for his Greycat Productions label, features him playing solo on ten standards and his original title cut. Howland has a basic melodic style which is often punctuated by the rhythmic patterns that he plays with his left hand. His concise interpretations of the mostly-vintage melodies (only three performances are over four minutes and only “My Foolish Heart” is longer than five) get to the point quickly and succeed both as background music (he plays at a lot of restaurants) and for close listening. To his credit, Howland does not sound like any of his predecessors. Most of the selections (which include “The Girl From Ipanema,” “Stella By Starlight” and “Manha De Carnival”) have been performed a countless number of times before but chances are that these are among the songs that are most requested. In any case, Bill Howland gives the tunes some fresh life and performs with taste and a light solid swing.
Orleans, MA - September 2, 2005 - Review by Cheryl Kain, The Cape Codder:
How fitting that this CD is titled On A Clear Day. Cape-based pianist Bill Howland's greatest gift is the clarity with which he plays those ivories. Beginning the disc with the lovely There Will Never Be Another You, his rhythmic left hand and crystal-clear melody begin to carry you off to some musical destination you'd be happy never to return from. The old Gershwin favorite Summertime is sweetened with swing. Howland's rendition starts out with the familiar haunting tune, and then swings it, improvising all the way, weaving his characteristic motif throughout. Howland's rhythmic delivery on Antonio Carlos Jobim's Triste captures the Brazilian composer's essence effortlessly. Howland is spot on, enhancing the rich chords with his easy lilt and sassy chord changes. Next up is the Mancini/Mercer song The Days of Wine and Roses. This is a nice up-tempo version, and halfway through Howland employs his famous walking left hand bass. For those of you unfamiliar with piano solos, all of these tunes are not easy stuff to play. Unlike performing with a trio, where the pianist is freed up to riff and ramble atop a bass line, playing alone, the pianist must comp with the left hand and play melody with his right hand. Howland manages to tastefully flesh out the standards while keeping impeccable time, with commitment to his signature style. Howland's style is not overly showy, but solid, beautiful playing that wins over our ears and hearts at once. How High the Moon once more shines his tasty timing and sensitive chord movement, beginning with a melodic statement, and then improvising around the melody. Again, Howland breaks up the song's form employing a walking bass and right hand solo. In Autumn Leaves, Howland plays the wonderfully rich tune while modulating to different keys without us realizing where he is taking us. The title track On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever), Howland does a straight ahead spin on the song, then ventures into a shimmering solo and restating the melody once more. Fly Me to the Moon is perfection, and the CD wraps up with the inimitable In A Sentimental Mood and Emily. The Duke Ellington penned In A Sentimental Mood is done in moderate tempo, where again pianist Howland modulates effortlessly between keys. Finally, the gorgeous Emily begins in a symmetric meter, and then veers into almost a syncopated waltz feel, with that famously beautiful theme throughout. This is a great CD to relax to outside on the patio, with a glass of wine in hand, and it is a must-hear while driving! Bill Howland plays with the style, grace and ease of a finely honed musician who has been and performed around the block, and then some. Don't miss this foray into our beloved standards. If you consider yourself a jazz aficionado, you'll hear that this is not one of those dime-a-dozen-million-notes per minute kind of jazz piano player. And if you've never even ventured into jazz territory, check it out anyway. Beautiful music is beautiful music, no matter what category you place a song. Here on Howland's On A Clear Day, there is clearly something for everyone. --Cheryl Kain - The Cape Codder
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Kiawah Island, SC
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students