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Rhapsody in Blue

Rhapsody in Blue

Bill O'Connell

Label: Challenge Records
Format: CD
Barcode: 0608917330229
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Catalog number: CR 73302
Releasedate: 03-09-10
O’Connell and company are more than great players sharing space on a CD. Rather, they comprise an agile and sentient ensemble with an uncanny ability to shift seamlessly between Latin Jazz and swing, each exceptional soloist soars with such fluid harmonic and rhythmic support. The result is this collection of truly great performances, one track better than the next.
  • An internationally veteran of post-bop, Latin jazz and hard bop
  • Bill O'Connell sets himself apart as a pianist and leader who begs to be compared - and compared to the best
  • “...you can’t miss the ensemble’s ability to shift effortlessly between sections and feels”
  • He worked for Chet Baker and Sonny Rollins at early stages in his career
  • An internationally recognized composer, has his original compositions on
    CDs by Mongo Santamaria, Emily Remler, Charles Fambrough, and on virtually every recording made by flutist Dave Valentin
O’Connell and company are more than great players sharing space on a CD. Rather, they comprise an agile and sentient ensemble with an uncanny ability to shift seamlessly between Latin Jazz and swing, each exceptional soloist soars with such fluid harmonic and rhythmic support. The result is this collection of truly great performances, one track better than the next.

Bill O’Connell: piano Luques Curtis: bass (track 1,6,7,8,10) David Finck: bass (track 2,3,4,5) Steve Berrios: drums Steve Slagle: saxophone (alto sax (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9) soprano sax (tracks 4, 7) Richie Flores: percussion (track 1 congas and timbales, track 3 congas, chekere and timbales) Dave Samuels: vibraphone (track 1, 3) Conrad Herwig: trombone (track 5)

Bill O’Connell
Is a native New Yorker who studied classical music at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Early in his career, he played in various salsa and jazz settings which set the tone for his musical stylings of today.
In 1977, he joined salsa great Mongo Santamaria, writing and performing with him for over two years. Following that he worked with Chet Baker and jazz legend Sonny Rollins with whom he toured the United States and Europe. In 1982, he joined Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin, and they have been touring the world together ever since, performing before enthusiastic audiences everywhere.

Bill, an internationally recognized composer, has his original compositions on
CDs by Mongo Santamaria, Emily Remler, Charles Fambrough, and on virtually every recording made by flutist Dave Valentin. One of Valentin’s most requested songs, “Oasis”, which was recorded by the GRP Allstars for the CD, “GRP Live in Session”, is one of Bill’s original compositions.

Over the years, Bill has displayed his versatility with numerous other jazz  artists including Gato Barbieri, the Fort Apache Band, and vocalists Jon Lucien, Kenny Rankin, and Astrud Gilberto. His seven solo recordings, “Searching” on the Inner City label, “Love for Sale” on the Pony Canyon Label, “Signature, featuring Bill O’Connell” on the Blue Moon Mesa label, “Lost Voices” on the CTI label, “Black Sand” and “Latin Jazz Fantasy” on the Random Chance label and “Triple Play” on the Savant label have received wide critical acclaim throughout the world. On four separate occasions, Bill was the recipient of the coveted “Jazz Writer of the Year” award from SESAC, the performing rights organization.

Bill’s release entitled “Black Sand” The Bill O’ Connell Latin Jazz Project, was released September of 2001 and featured Dave Valentin, Randy Brecker, Andy Gonzalez and Steve Berrios among others. This CD received critical acclaim and climbed to #5 on the national jazz radio chart. As Mark Holston writes in the liner notes, “Putting the primary accent on the Latin side of the stylistic equation proves the point Bill O’Connell has been making all of his professional life-Black Sand sizzles.”

Bill ‘s CD “Latin Jazz Fantasy” features Bill in duo, trio, quartet, quintet, and orchestral settings. George Carroll writes, “It seems O’Connell possesses that unique gift to write into an idiom (in this case Latin), with a sense of transcendence. This is a jazz pianist with immense ‘player power’ as it were. The range of his artistic spectrum seems limitless, and I suggest that my readers will be moved by this colossus of musical dignity and improvisational authority”.

Bill has also released the CD “Triple Play” with the unique instrumentation of piano, flute and congas/perc. From Jazziz Chris Heim says, “The old adage that good things come in small packages is proven again in Latin-jazz pianist Bill O’ Connell’s latest and seventh disc as a leader.”  This trio has performed in New York City and around the world. (for instance at the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.)