Born: June 26, 1956 Primary Instrument: Piano
Grammy nominated composer, arranger and jazz pianist Bill Cunliffe is gathering nationwide attention with his innovative and swinging recordings and compositions He first fell under the influence of jazz by studying at Duke University with the great pianist Mary Lou Williams. He received his masters from the Eastman School of Music, and won several Down Beat Awards for his big band and orchestral pieces.
After teaching at Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, he toured as pianist and arranger with the Buddy Rich Big Band, and working with Frank Sinatra. He then played and toured with many legends of jazz, including Ray Brown, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, James Moody, and Joshua Redman. Currently, he plays with his own trio, his group Imaginacion, and duets with the great jazz flutist Holly Hofmann, with whom he has recorded five CD's.
Bill was the 1989 winner of the $10,000 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Award, and has received stipends from the National Endowment for the Arts. His three albums for Warner/Discovery Records all charted in nationwide jazz polls. His books Jazz Keyboard Toolbox, and Jazz Piano Inventions published by Alfred Publications, are fast becoming standard reference books in jazz, and his big band compositions are published by Kendor Music, and the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Press. His choral music is published by Santa Barbera Music Publishers. Bill is a Baldwin Pianos artist, and was Marian McPartland's guest on her famed Piano Jazz radio show in June '98.
As a composer and arranger, Bill has been performed by many orchestras, including the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the Illinois Philharmonic, the Reading (PA) Symphony, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. Among his works are a three movement Romantic Fantasy for piano and orchestra, a festive overture, Viva Mexico, and numerous works for big band, orchestra, and choir. Recently, the Rodger Fox Big Band of New Zealand released a CD of Bill's jazz orchestra compositions. He is currently composer in residence at All Saints Episcopal Church, in Pasadena, California, and Assistant Professor of Music at the Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance, at Temple University.
On the classical side, he performs his own distinctive arrangement of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” with orchestras, and performs with his group Trimotif, which he co leads with oboist Phoebe Ray, and featuring David Shostac on flute, often featuring his own works.
Bill's latest projects include a groundbreaking audiophile recording, Live at Bernies, with bassist Darek Oles and drummer Joe La Barbera done both to enhanced CD and to 12 inch/ 45 rpm vinyl at the famous Bernie Grundman mastering facility in Hollywood for the Groove Note label. In addition, his latest, which spent a month in the #2 position in the JazzWeek radio polls is Imaginacion an album featuring his Latin Jazz Nonet, on Torii Records. The arrangement Do It Again on the CD was nominated for a Grammy in 2006.