Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor/leader
Composer and bandleader Billy Fox is adept at synthesizing disparate genres. His compositions are distinguished by an organic blending of composed and improvised music, as well as narrative sensibilities deriving from his work as a screenwriter.
In 2010, Clean Feed Records released Billy's newest album Dulces, performed by Blackbirds & Bullets. The band features Gary Pickard, Miki Hirose, Matt Parker, Evan Mazunik, James Ilgenfritz, Arei Sekiguchi, and Julianne Carney.
Billy's debut as a leader/composer, The Uncle Wiggly Suite, was released in 2007 on Clean Feed. This ten-movement suite, featuring bassist Mark Dresser, pianist Deanna Witkowski, and an array of emerging improvisational talents (including John Savage, Gary Pickard, Percy Pursglove, John O'Brien, and Christopher Hoffman) was inspired by studies with Jane Ira Bloom at the New School Jazz and Contemporary Music program. Each movement of the suite derives from an atonal theme, with various sections drawing from modal jazz, New Orleans Second Line, Cuban bembe, Pakistani ghazals, and other styles. Selections from The Uncle Wiggly Suite are featured in the films Paper Man, directed by Kieran and Michele Mulroney, and Rhyme Animal, directed by Phil Roc (producer of the Sony Music documentary Made in Heaven--The Making of Kind of Blue).
Billy's extended composition, The Kaidan Suite, is inspired by Japanese ghost stories, and recreates the experience of hyakumonogatari kaidankai, in which these stories were told by diminishing candlelight. The Kaidan Suite merges traditional Japanese styles such as Gagaku, Noh, and Shakuhachi with modal and free jazz, as well as elements drawn from 20th- century Classical. The Kitsune Ensemble, comprised of Japanese and American musicians (Yayoi Ikawa, Yoshi Waki, Yasushi Nakamura, Arei Sekiguchi, John Savage, Gary Pickard, Christopher Hoffman, and Tim Collins) released the suite in January 2007 on Gozen Reiji Records. In 2010, Amanogawa, a seven-movement suite inspired by the Tanabata legend, premiered in Manhattan, performed by Gary Pickard, Miki Hirose, John Savage, Yayoi Ikawa, Christopher Hoffman, Yoshi Waki, and Arei Sekiguchi. The album is forthcoming.
Originally trained as a drummer and percussionist, Billy has performed in idioms ranging from avant- garde jazz, mambo and Latin jazz, R&B and hip hop, rockabilly, and hardcore punk. He has recorded with Richmond, Virginia's avant groove band Hotel X; Memphis/New York City's funky Candice Ivory; Nashville/Washington, D.C.'s roots rock act Last Train Home, and Washington D.C. punk legends United Mutation and Malefice.
Billy was the founder of seminal live hip hop act Beat Sugar, which opened for The Roots, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, and Medeski Martin and Wood. He also founded Nuevo Cache, featuring some of the top Latin jazz artists in Washington, D.C., and he has performed with Hotel X and Bern Nix at the Village Jazz Festival.
Billy has been awarded grants from the American Composers Forum, the Puffin Foundation, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Japan Foundation.
Billy is a member of the cARTwheel Initiative, a small team of artists traveling in December 2011 to Sri Lanka to mentor children with PTSD.
Awards:American Composers Forum McKnight Visiting Composer Fellowship; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Manhattan Community Arts Fund grant; Japan Foundation Arts and Culture Grant; Puffin Foundation grant
...exquisitely arranged and made precious by an infinite catalog of amusing details and harmonic refinement...passes from the modal atmosphere of 1960s jazz of Uncle Wiggly and Eyeball Eyeball (worthy of the pen of Oliver Nelson), to the silken oriental suggestions of the hypnotic Guzzle; to the embroiled Latin burning of Do the Wiggle...to the glamorous cool of the dreamy Kooky Spooks. -- Luca Canine, All About Jazz Italia
Northern Virginia heard madness and murder this weekend, as jazz met Japan in Rosslyn. Composer/ director Billy Fox deftly guided the improvising chamber group through the world premiere of his 13 movement composition, receiving a standing ovation at the performance's conclusion. -- Paul Ghosh- Roy, DCist
The Kaidan Suite (Gozen Reiji; www.gozenreiji.com)
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