Monday, 11 July 2011

Billy Bean

William Fredrick "Billy" Bean (born December 26, 1933) is an American jazz guitarist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bean was born into a musical family; his mother played piano, his father guitar, and his sister was a professional singer. Bean studied privately on his instrument and played locally in Philadelphia in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He moved to California in 1958, where he became associated with the West Coast jazz scene.

He only recorded a handful of albums in his short career, two of which were with fellow guitar legend, John Pisano in the late 1950s as well as an album with the Hal Gaylor Trio. Bean played as a sideman with Zoot Sims, Paul Horn, Buddy Collette, Charlie Ventura, Calvin Jackson, Bud Shank, and Les Elgart. His influence is heard in many players including Pat Martino. Larry Coryell wrote a tune entitled "Billy Bean" in tribute to him.

While his name sounds like something that would go nicely in a traditional Appalachian soup, Billy Bean is associated with the West Coast jazz scene and a guitar style that is both mellow and clever. He came from a musical family that included a mother who played piano, a father who played guitar, and a sister who worked as a professional vocalist. He seems to have spent most of the '40s and the first few years of the '50s studying his instrument privately, emerging as a professional player with a variety of combos based out of his native Philly. His jazz career seems to begin officially in 1956 as a member of Charlie Ventura's group, including early recordings, and by 1958 the guitarist had headed off to California, where quite a few opportunities awaited him. Bean began working with jazz players who also had busy studio schedules, including Paul Horn and Buddy Collette, both of whom doubled on saxophone and flute. He also gigged and recorded with leaders such as Buddy DeFranco, Calvin Jackson, and Les Elgart. Bean's style became associated with the Bud Shank group, a more or less typical affiliation in which brisk tempos, subdued dynamics, and a mellow atmosphere ruled the day. Bean's recordings as a leader also began in the late '50s, including a superb series of albums also featuring guitarist John Pisano. In the early '60s, Bean recorded with Herbie Mann and also came up with the superb album entitled The Trio with Hal Gaylor and Walter Norris. Continuing interest in this style of jazz from the '50s and '60s has presented many new opportunities for Bean as both a performer and clinician. Larry Coryell created the tune entitled "Billy Bean" in reference to this guitar legend. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide 

Billy Bean - The Trio Rediscovered (1961)

01. Motivation
02. Lush life
03. All of you
04. Porgy and Bess
05. Land's end
06. Have you met Miss Jones?
07. Groove yard
08. Che-low
09. Safari

Billy Bean: Guitar
Walter Norris: Piano
Hal Gaylor: Bass  


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