Born: August 25, 1979 Primary Instrument: Organ, Hammond B3
From cookin’ with Blues legend John Lee Hooker, organ summits with B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith, television and radio appearances, young Wil Blades is gaining critical acclaim and international recognition. Blades, a native Chicagoan, has become the San Francisco Bay Area’s first call organist and is rapidly gaining momentum throughout the country. In 2007 and 2008, he was named in the Downbeat critics poll under “Rising Star” for organ. For the past several years, Wil has been wowing Bay Area audiences with groups such as “O.G.D.,” “Motherbug”, “Amendola Vs. Blades”, “Steppin’.” In addition to performing with legendary artists such as John Lee Hooker and Dr. Lonnie Smith, Wil has performed and recorded with Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Joe Louis Walker, Don Braden, Donald Harrison, Karl Denson, Will Bernard, Scott Amendola, Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore, Betty Joplin, Eddie Marshall, Herbie Lewis, and many others.
Born in 1979, Wil began playing drums at the age of 8, guitar at 13, and then found his true calling on Hammond B-3 at 19. While studying Jazz at New College of California with Herbie Lewis, Wil landed weekly gigs at John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room in San Francisco. Barely of legal age, veteran musicians, such as Oscar Myers, took him under their wings. Being self- taught on organ, the weekly gigs proved to be the best lessons of all. In the years since, Wil has received tutelage from Jazz Organ master, Dr. Lonnie Smith. “Yeah, he does it...he’s on it. He is the future to carry on the legend, the legacy of the organ, [of] the B-3.”
Wil has kept the traditional sounds of Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and “Groove” Holmes alive, while creating a more personal, modern sound. In Wil’s words, “I feel indebted to the tradition and masters of the Hammond Organ, but while trying to keep it going, I’m also focused on bringing my contemporary influences to the table.” His playing is rhythmic, funky and bluesy, yet his original compositions are harmonically intriguing and unique.
Wil currently leads his own groups around the Bay Area and is dedicating his time to teaching the Hammond B-3 Organ privately and at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. Current musical collaborations include groups with guitarist Will Bernard, Jazz legend Idris Muhammad and a duo project with drummer Scott Amendola. Wil’s debut record, “Sketchy”, is now available on Doodlin’ Records.
“Yeah, he does it...he’s on it. He is the future to carry on the legend, the
legacy of the
organ, [of] the B-3.”
-Dr. Lonnie Smith
Pioneer and Legend of the Hammond B-3 Organ
That boy's cookin'! That boy's cookin'!
--John Lee Hooker
Wil Blades is already a legend on the Hammond B-3 organ...On his debut album, Sketchy, released in August on Doodlin' Records, Blades showcases a smooth, funky sound that recalls heroes like Jimmy Smith without being slavishly derivative. Apparently, Blades' time spent in combos with Scott Amendola, Wil Bernard, and Idris Muhammad has taught him well.
- SF Weekly
Here's a young Jazz Organist that every one should know about...Wil
has so much goin' on with the Hammond B-3, it's hard to believe he's
not fifty years old...His organ playing has leaped him into the ranks
KSUP 88.9FM , Santa Cruz, CA ...and Wil Blades fingering a - yes! - Hammond B-3 organ. Blades keeps everything funky and jet-set cool, turning in consistently great lines and more than a few solid solos on the Hammond.
All About Jazz.com This Young Lion has committed his talent to the Hammond B-3 organ...He knows what's what and delivers...He's happening and is very serious about his music.
--Afrikahn Jamal Dayvs
Jazzline Radio and TV
KKUP 91.5FM , Santa Clara, CA
The blues via Wil Blades and the Hammond B3 live on strong in the bay area
experience extends beyond his years as he takes you on a rare jazz organ
leaves you with that good clean feeling inside. Well at least that is the way I
feel. I can't get
enough. I've seen a few great organists and Wil stands with them. I appreciate
this art form alive.
“Wil Blades has emerged in recent years as a highly resourceful Hammond B- 3 player looking to expand the possibilities of his instrument. He’s always worth a listen.”
“Blades’ able handling of the foot pedals and lefty bass lines frees his right hand to venture into some seriously groovy territory…when extensive exploration is warranted, Blades can dig in with confidence.”
-Mike E. Splain
Good Times Weekly, Santa Cruz
Wil Blades is the Old Soul of the band and as is often the case with old souls, the youngest member of the (Fil Lorenz) Soul-tet. His Organ playing on Stinky Stinky is uncannily authentic and fresh.
“Wil Blades may be a younger player on the Hammond, but he hits the organ
like a seasoned pro from the Soul Jazz years of the 60’s! Blades sound is
clean and fluid, soaring with clean lines sometimes, hitting more skittish
funky rhythms at others.”
“Wil Blades has to be one of the most promising cats on the music scene
today. His pulsating, hard groovin’ style on the Hammond B-3 is reminiscent
of many great players, but with a flair that is distinctly his own.”
Tracks: Why?; 32nd St.; Hopeful; Where Go?; What's Up Doc; I'm Not Home; Sketchy; Mr. Lewis; Hollowgram; Mae Mae.
Personnel: Wil Blades-Organ, Idris Muhammad-Drums, Will Bernard- Guitar, Dayna Stephens- Tenor Sax, Gabe Eaton-Alto Sax, Mike Rinta-Trombone.
As A Side Musician
Bobby Ace Records
Personnel:Karl Denson-Sax and Flute, Wil Blades-Organ, Kenneth Crouch-Keyboards, Steve Haney-Percussion, Jake Najor-Drums, Aaron Redfield-Drums, Anthony Smith-Organ and Keyboards
Personnel: Will Bernard-Guitar, Wil Blades-Organ, Ryan Newman-Bass, Keith McArthur-Bass, Jan Jackson-Drums, Paul Spina-Drums, Dave Ellis-Saxophone, Joe Cohen- Saxophone, Adam Thies- Trombone, Mike Olmos-Trumpet, Peter Apfelbaum-Saxophone, Josh Jones- Percussion, Michael Bluestein-Organ and Clavinet
The Calling: Volume 2
Strong Brew Music
Personnel: Terrence Brewer-Guitar, Eric Drake-Tenor Saxophone, Wil Blades-Organ, Derrick Phillips-Drums
Fil Lorenz Soul-tet
Personnel: Fil Lorenz-Saxophone, Joel Ryan-Trumpet, Wil Blades- Organ, Sebastien Lanson-Guitar, Brian Fishler-Drums
Dancing Sumo Records
John L. Worley, Jr.-Trumpet/Flugel, Vincent Jourde-Soprano Sax, Wayne Wallace-Trombone, John Santos-Percussion, Fil Lorenz-Baritone Sax, Wil Blades-Organ (B-3), Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee-Bass, Adam Shulman-Piano, Jeff Marrs-Drums, Charlie McCarthy-Tenor/Alto Sax, Rob Batchko-Tenor Sax, Danny Grewen-Trombone
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Organ, Hammond B3
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Weekday times available, generally pretty flexible. $75 an hour. Willing to do sliding scale.