BILL GERHARDT's WAVE CYCLE Appearing Sun Dec 2nd 2018 at 7:30pm
Tickets: $12 in advance $15 at the door
Profile of Bill Gerhardt In Rapid River Magazine
by Eddie LeShure
“Bill Gerhardt is a wonderful pianist. Not only is he a great soloist and composer, he sure knows how to accompany a singer!” ~ Vocalist Sheila Jordan
Bill was surrounded by music while growing up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. “It was everywhere! Lessons started at nine, as was the fashion then, but I wanted to play long before that. My father turned me on to Art Tatum and Errol Garner and a friend/mentor exposed me to the entire universe of music. I quickly became interested in non-piano groups and artists like Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. In terms of influences, I give credit to all the great music I’ve experienced in my life.”
In high school, Bill accompanied the choral program and participated in stage and marching bands. He was also a student of Herb Drury in Saint Louis for two years before attending North Texas State University.
Bill’s professional career began at just fifteen playing solo piano in local restaurants, and he went on the road at age nineteen. After five years, he settled in Charlotte where he honed his writing and arranging skills. His group won the 1988 Down Beat Musicfest and Bill was recognized for his arranging talent. In 1989, he moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands and used that as a base for the next ten years, performing throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
In 1999, Bill continued his career in New York City. “I wasn’t planning on moving there, but went to record with a friend from Europe. The day the session started, my sister made plans for an extended hiatus away from The City and offered me her apartment. The “band” I was recording with included Billy Higgins, George Mraz, Tom Harrell, Joe Daley, Ron Horton and Jed Levy! Pianist James Williams stopped by the session and all he could do was shake his head when I told him this was my first gig and I’d only been there three days!”
Bill has performed or recorded with many diverse artists such as Sheila Jordon, Billy Hart, Dave Douglas, David Liebman, Ben Allison, Benny Bailey, Jeff Ballard, Leonard Gaskin, Francois Moutin, Tony Moreno, Idris Mohammed, Emily Remler, Roswell Rudd, Gary Thomas and Steve Wilson, among others.
“In 2002, my mother passed and I relocated to Asheville to be my father’s caregiver. Around that time, I began working with young players in this area to form a non-profit organization called the Jazz Composers Forum.” Recognized as a vital mainstay of the creative community in WNC, the Forum was supported by a diverse audience and enriched the lives of both musicians and listeners.
“Gerhardt has a way with music that makes the listener feel as though what he’s playing is brand new to him, like something he’s just discovered for himself, while at the same time conveying a feeling that he could have played it a thousand times before. This balancing act between creative exploration and clear, melodic mastery begs for my attention and keeps me coming back for more.” ~ Bassist Mike Holstein