Bill Connors

Born September 24, 1949. Instrument: Guitar Jazz guitarist Bill Connors has been an accomplished performer whose musical sensibility and technical skills have been honed through years of hard work. Born in California in 1949, Connors started playing guitar when he was fourteen years old. After three years of intensive self-study on the rock and blues influence that were his first inspiration, it was time for him to start playing gigs in the Los Angeles area. He found jazz music, which would be his lifelong passion. Connors arrived in San Francisco in 1970, and met Glenn Cronkhite (drummer and vibraphonist), who would help him discover new jazz sounds and learn more about the subject. Connors was a member of many top-flight musicians in those early years, including Cronkhite, Steve Swallow, and Mike Nock, as well as pianists Art Lande (and Mike Nock) After sitting in on a gig, Connors got signed to Return to Forever, Chick Corea’s pioneering fusion band that featured Stanley Clarke as bassist and Lenny White as drummer. Connors settled in New York, where he became a prominent figure on the international and national music scene. He toured extensively in Europe and Japan, and recorded the legendary Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. Connors’ work with the group and Hymn… was a pioneering step in jazz guitar. He left RTF in 1974 and started exploring New York’s jazz and session scene. He performed with Jan Hammer and guitarist John Abercrombie, as well as recording with Stanley Clarke. In 1974, Connors released his first solo album, Theme to the Gaurdian (ECM). He made the switch to an acoustic guitar and recorded it. He also began the next phase in his self-driven study, taking on the task of studying the transcriptions and studying the works of classical guitarists. The album Of Mist and Melting (ECM) was his second recording on acoustic guitar. He was the leader and guitarist and saxophonist Jan Garbarek played bass, while Jack DeJohnette was drummer. Swimming with a hole in my body (ECM) was Connors’ solo effort in 1979. Connors recorded in 1976 and 1977 with Paul Bley, Lee Konitz and Jimmy Giuffre in New York. He toured Europe with Luciano Berio, Cathy Berberian and other composers. Connors returned to electric guitar in 1977, when he performed and recorded with Jan Garbarek and Jack DeJohnette, and John Taylor (Places), 1978 (Photo with Blue Sky and White Cloud, ECM), 1978 (Photo with Garbarek and Taylor, Jon Christensen, and Eberhard Weber), 1979 (Path), ECM). In 1985, Connors recorded Step It (Pathfinder/Evidence), featuring Connors and Steve Kahn on guitars, Tom Kennedy on bass and Dave Weckl on drums. Gene Santoro, a music critic, said that Connors’ playing was “the aching Blues phrases sing with an expressiveness like early-to mid-period Clapton; and the sudden note blizzards strike in the stark power of a John Coltrane sax solo.” (Guitar Player May 1985). Double Up, Connors’ 1986 album featuring Kennedy as bassist and Plainfield as drummer, garnered more praises: “Connors is back stronger than ever with one the most dynamic and burning sounds in electric Jazz” and “Connors soars. smolders. and screams. Don’t miss it!” (Jim Ferguson and Guitar Player, April 1987). Assembler was recorded by the same trio (Connors Kennedy, Plainfield) in 1987. Reviewers praised the sound: “Connors’ flowing and passionate lines are set in the context of slippery, interactive funk rhythms created by drummer Tom Plainfield and the 6-string electric bassist Tom Kennedy…The three reach a special accord… Bill Connors has a rare and ripping form.” (reviewer Bill Milkowski). Connors has been teaching private lessons for the past ten year while also continuing his technical and stylistic studies of jazz greats. He plays plectrum on an archtop electric guitar and classical jazz guitar. He returns to recording as a professional musician with a high level of musicianship, clear sense of direction and the same love for music that he has always had. From allaboutjazz

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