Welcome to News & Views on BillyKerr.com. The purpose of this section is to have a place for Billy to post articles, news about events pertaining to him, his quintet or any other group with which he’s involved. In addition, you might find some comments about a musician or group that Billy finds interesting.

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March 10, 2008 Volume 1 - #1

Welcome to BillyKerr.com. We’re very excited about launching the site, after-all, it has been a work in progress for two full years. Ah, the wheels of progress move very slowly indeed, but I digress. Let me begin by giving credit and thanks to the people responsible for making the site a reality.

The initial design was created by Loren Ellis, web-site designer and wonderful guitar player now living in Chicago.

Additional design and all the mechanical wizardry involved in the site was handled by Jon Kip. Jon is a master at pushing all the correct buttons and switches necessary to make the magic you see before you appear in a web-site. As we got more involved in putting this site together, Jon would say, “You know if we add this, or that, we could use this really cool way of presenting it.”

The site began to take on a life of its own, and here is the result.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jon for his enthusiasm and creativity in bringing this site to life. Incidentally, in addition to the work Jon does on web-sites, he is also a wonderful woodwind doubler in Los Angeles, CA.

I would also like to thank artistic designer, Susan Johnson for adding artwork, graphics and the almost imperceptible touches that give the site “pizzazz.”

As we speak, I’m on a plane flying toward Los Angeles from Jakarta, Indonesia, where I took part in the Java Jazz Festival with the Ron King Big Band. The three- day festival had close to 1,000 artists playing concerts for approximately 75,000 fans on fifteen different stages. The roster of artists included Manhattan Transfer, Australian pianist Mike Nock, singer, Kurt Elling, the groups, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Harvey Mason Trio, featuring guitarist Pat Martino and The Crusaders featuring drummer Steve Gadd, among many others.

Besides performing our own music to a completely packed, knocked-out crowd, we were the resident big band at the festival. We backed up eighteen-year old vocal sensation, Renee Olstead and Las Vegas based Gary Anthony in a series of concerts. Olstead has been wowing audiences with her abilities as a jazz/blues singer since the age of fourteen and Anthony does a great tribute to the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra. All concerts were well received and the King unit showed everyone what great big band playing is all about.

On the last afternoon of the festival I got to hang out with Mike Nock. We talked about the first time I ever heard him play in the mid-1960s at the Juilliard School of Music, in a concert with the Chris Swansen Big Band. At that time Mike lived in New York, then moved to San Francisco and eventually back to Sydney Australia. We talked about all things jazz, and decided that jazz is alive and well, but could always use a boost from a more committed fan base. He’s a very interesting guy and a wonderful musician. Before I left, Mike gave me a few of his CDs, including a live duo concert with soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman. Look for my review of that CD in an up-coming issue of Saxophone Journal.

The schedule at the festival for the band was hectic and action packed, but we were given the royal treatment, and considering the success of the concerts, the band is already looking forward to returning to the Java Jazz Festival in 2009.

We’ll be back in L.A. in about 15 hours and we’re looking forward to picking up where we left off as well as beginning some new projects. I’ll be doing concerts and club gigs with the Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra (BEJO), the Ron King Big Band and Gary Tole’s Legends of Swing. Our newest project will be the launching of the new Billy Kerr Quintet. The quintet has been dormant since I left Montreal, but we’ll start rehearsing in April with some new material added to the regular book. Please check here for information about performance dates and places.

That’s if for now, and remember, the music only lives through your support.

 

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