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Thoughts of the Day

 October 8, 2017

Legendary drummer Grady Tate died. He was a friend, mentor , and one of the groove Masters of all time. Proud to have been his saxophonist of choice on several occasions. Worked together for two years on the Broadway Review Black and Blue. The fun lives on in my head

 

September 23, 2017

  Sister Charlotte died. Charlotte paved the way for me when I was 18 years old. She had been in New York trying to find her way in this Business of Show. Don't think I would have had the nerve to come to the Big Apple had she not been here before testing the waters. RIP Dear Sister.

Jan 13, 2017

Turned 71 years of age. Feels fine so far. I am definitely a much better musician at 71 than I was at 21, and certainly a wiser person.

July 22, 2016

Started rehearsing Broadway show Shuffle Along on March 6. The closing will be July 24. I was hoping for a longer run but as they say "There's No Business Like Show Business." Great Cast, Band, and Crew. A familiar place once again; the closing of a door. There usually is another door and  the mystery is always what will be behind it. The good news is that the anticipation is as intense at 70 as it was at 20. Maybe more so?  

 

January 13, 2016

Another life milestone is a 70th Birthday. In the immortal words of James Brown, "I feel good like I knew I would."  Excited about where I have been but more excited about where I am going. Big plans and opportunities in store for 2016.

 

 

July 12,2015

In the "Wood Shed"  Again???  


June 29, 2014

June 29, 2014 The last performance of After Midnight on Broadway. I used an old cliche earlier "When One Door Closes another door opens?" I certainly didn't mean to diminish the significance of the closing door. There are lessons to be learned behind every door. This one certainly has been a ball. Met some new and amazing people and shared some time with old friends, who I got to know even better. Try not to display sadness but now in my solitude must let the emotion flow. Will certainly miss going to work every day and helping to spread the joy that comes from the center of Joy Street. Relocated to be a part of it and no regrets. No place quite like New York. Been fortunate to be in some pretty "hip" places on Broadway.  Over the years I have been a part of some great Broadway shows with a "Black Jazz" theme. For some reason they don't run as long as a Musical about some "Cats" but so be it. Will worry about what's next tomorrow but honestly saddened a bit about what ended today. Love and best wishes to the entire company of After Midnight.

 

January 30, 2014

I will be moving back to New York City from Memphis TN in March. Joining a band that was put together by Wynton Marsalis for the Broadway musical After Midnight.
Thankful is the operative word. Thankful to have been born into music 68 years ago. Thankful for music in Olean NY public school back then. Thankful for the $2 private clarinet lessons. Thankful for new and exciting opportunities. Thankful for great family and friends.
Thankful for frosting on an already great cake.
Have seen a lot of changes in 68 years. ( 55 years making music) Changes in people, places, popularity, perspective and protocol.
The more things change the more they stay the same.

 

Sept 30, 2013

Anticipating a move sometime in 2014 but not sure exactly where or when. At this moment North Carolina is heavy on my mind. ???  Always great to have something to look forward to. Options are limitless. Will be 68 in 2014 and still climbing. Time races by. The trick is to outrun it. Keep the pipes in my face and continue to think about making music.. Life is good and don't take for granted for a moment the fact that I have always been blessed. Pray for continued blessings. Any day free from tragedy is a great day. Praise God and keep moving.

May 2, 2012

Been Living in Memphis, TN since November of 2011. Slowly finding a place in the community with occasional trips back to NY for work. Still looking for what is next and new. Open minded about the future but deeply rooted in a long and traditional past. My main goal at this point is to be a positive force in the community. Willing to teach what I know but have no shortcuts
to offer.

February 24, 2011

Love Stories has been on the JazzWeek National Airplay charts for 16 weeks. Went up to #10 and is currently #27. One cut; You Go to My Head reached #1 in Philadelphia; The City Of Brotherly Love. Thanks for loving a Brother.

February 2, 2010

Recording of third CD for Producer, Jack Kreisberg. This one is called Love Stories. As of January 3, 2011 it was #10 on the national Jazz Radio playlist, JazzWeek.com Looking for new opportunities as a result of Love Stories.

October 1, 2010

Hearing Voices is still on the Jazz Radio Charts at Number 26. This is the 28th week on the charts. Thanks to all that are playing it and listening to it. (It stayed on for 36 weeks)

August 11, 2009

New CD Hearing Voices came out on August 11, 2009. Was #9 on Jazz Radio Charts by Sept. 7, 2009 (See June 11, 2008)

March 7, 2009

Duke Ellington Sacred Concert with Jessye Norman with a large ensemble, Chorus, and Strings at St. Johns in New York. This concert was put on by Carnegie Hall.

November 20, 2008

Played the Today Show, (subbing) in the Count Basie Band, with Tony Bennett. The occasion was the promotion of new Christmas CD.

September 12, 2008

Played a Duke Ellington Sacred concert at the University of Maryland with Jessye Norman. Just her, a rhythm section of her long time pianist, Mark Markham, Drummer, Lewis Nash and Bassist Ira Coleman, and My Tenor. Is there a better gig on the planet for a horn player? I doubt it.

August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes died on Aug 10, 2008. Didn't think about how significant he was in my life until now. Yes, I worked and recorded with him in those great days of the 70s but never had a one on one relationship with him.

Thinking back, it was the sound and success of his music that made me make that move to Memphis in October of 1971.

"Black Moses" led me to the Promise Land and set the tone for the rest of my life. Isaac Hayes will be truly missed in this world. He was a bad Mother ...... Shut yo mouth!!! Just talkin'
bout Isaac.

June 11, 2008

Went into studio to record a new CD. The working title of this one is Hearing Voices. I was calling upon all the ghosts in Hearing Voices. It was all in my head; Coleman Hawkins, Lester, Jacquet, Johnny Hodges, Cannonball, Stitt, Rollins, Gene Ammons, Cleanhead, etc, All the voices that I have been hearing in my head for years. Unfortunately, none of them showed up for the date and as I listened back to the 12 tracks of alternate Alto and Tenor, all I could hear for better or worse was Bill Easley. As for my colleagues, they sounded differently in the studio than they did in my head also for better or worse. Too much instruction? Not enough? Time will tell in terms of who likes it and who doesn't Personally, I am much more pleased with the results than I was with my last effort so that is all that
really matters.

September 4, 2007

Business Man's Bounce CD released on Sept. 4, 2007. Debued on the air play charts on Sept. 24 at #13 and peaked at #7. Pleased that it was received so well in Radio Land.

It is on the 18th and Vine Label

January 13, 2006

Turning 60 is a milestone for anyone no matter what you do for a living. It is a time for reflection and anticipation. I consider it to be a wonderful blessing, especially since most of my musical heroes were not given this much time. Though it has been a long and exciting journey, I honestly don't feel that my best years are behind me. There is plenty of room for growth. The growth will be a result of new opportunities, self-motivation and hopefully, continued
good health.

July 2000 -  March 2002

During the time period of July 2000 - March 2002, I had the opportunity to perform and record with one of the current day "Young Lions" of the trumpet. Nicholas Payton put together a twelve piece band that payed tribute to Louis Armstrong. He arranged some modern takes on some of Armstrong’s earlier hits. This band traveled the States and Europe playing this new music. The project was documented on a Verve recording called Dear Louis. The record was in the final nominations for a Grammy in 2003. Hearing the music again in 2008 is a reminder of time
well spent.

July 2004 & February 2005

Ruth Brown was a part of my life and career for about twenty years. She was one of those magical people who just got better and better no matter what the odds. We worked July 14 - August 8, 2004 and the month of February 2005 in a New York nightspot called the
Jazz AuBar.

The First Ruth Brown Blues Festival took place in her hometown of Portsmouth Va. on May 13, 2006. Ruth Brown and Friends were there to perform. She was the brightest of Show Business Stars, a true legend. And now on November 17, 2006 I receive word that Ms Rhythm has left the earth. When Ms. B took the band out to dinner she would announce, "Don't look at the right side of the menu; Get what you want." She lived her life that way.

May 2004 - October 2004

Worked at Hotel Carlyle with the legendary Bobby Short in his last seasons. What a great and wonderful man he was; one of the greatest cabaret performers of all times and equally as great as a human being. He treated his music and his musicians with great respect. One of a kind that I will always remember.

December 2002

The Jazz Organ Combo has been a big part of my music experience. I was fortunate to play with most of the major names of the Hammond Organ. This format known as Soul Jazz has been one of the bigger pieces of my Music pie. Both Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff were two that included me in their bands for many years. Jimmy Smith's death left a big hole in the world of Organic Jazz and in my own soul.

Took my first trip to South Africa with Jimmy Smith in December of 2002. McGriff died on May
24, 2008.

July 6, 2002 -  December 29, 2002

Harlem Song was a musical directed by the Great George Wolf at the Legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem New York. The plan was for this musical to have an unlimited run at the theater and a center piece for the current restoration of the community. I was a part of the on stage band that played that show from July 6 - December 29, 2002.

The Show traced the cultural development that took place in Harlem from the days of the great Black migration to the days of the Harlem Riots in 1964. Quite significant to me since I arrived in Harlem in 1964, right after the riots.

Name Dropping

Without meaning to drop names of people and places; Jessye Norman, Johnny Mathis, Michell Lagrand, Chris Conners, Carol Sloane, Mark Murphy, Ron Carter, Grady Tate, The Cab Calloway Band, Japan, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, and Pete's Saloon all appear in the recent ledgers of the Bill Easley work calendar.

On Jazz

Jazz is one of the most complex and misunderstood words that I know of. Its meaning gets more confusing with the passing of time? There are all kinds of music that for lack of a better word, we put under the label of "Jazz." The word covers a lot of variation and diversity?

I have known the people who played the music going all the way back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Jazz is not a style of music; it is, in fact, a thinking process and a way of living. A way of responding to the immediate environment. In its origin it was a positive reaction to an adverse situation.

When I was a teenager a lady told me, "You play very well but I want to hear you after you
have suffered."

Many of the great music makers that I met knew about transferring the elements of pain
into music.

 
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