Billy Kilson

"I've been using Reunion Blues since my first year at Berklee 1980 and there's no other bags that have come close to Reunion Blues."

Billy is known as a drummer of the highest caliber; known as such for his revelational improvisation and timing, and an undeniable stage presence reminiscent of the great jazz drummers before him. With diverse backgrounds, his project are a summation of his collective life and musical experiences.

At sixteen, Billy attended the Maryland Gifted and Talented Institute for High School Students. It was here when he first heard about Berklee School of Music. At seventeen he went to the Shenandoah Music Camp and heard one of Stanley Clarke's recordings featuring Tony Williams. After listening to one of Miles Davis’ recording that also featured Tony, Billy said he was mesmerized by this drummers style. He was overwhelmed with the sound and kept trying to learn this technique, but felt as if he didn't have enough hands. Billy learned that Tony Williams' teacher was Alan Dawson who had taught at Berklee at one time and was still teaching privately in the area. He had no doubt about what to do next. Move to Boston and attend Berklee College of Music.

While attending Berklee and studying privately with Alan Dawson, Billy absorbed everything he taught. Alan became his mentor and even a Father figure. Finally, Alan announced that he had taught him everything he could and it was time to go out in the world to perform. After a short tour with Walter Davis Jr, word spread and the calls began to come. Donald Byrd, Ahmad Jamal and Dianne Reeves were some of the first artists who hired Billy for their tours. From this exposure, Billy caught the attention of George Duke, Mike Mainieri and Steps Ahead, Najee, Freddie Jackson, Bob James and the calls kept coming.

Eventually Dave Holland invited Billy to join his quintet. As the drummer for the Dave Holland Quintet, he brought an element of funk to the band, creating a new sound for them and helped to catapult them into a premiere group in jazz. Critics frequently lauded his performances, particularly his expertise with odd meters. He received Grammy Awards for his work with Dave Holland as well as several nominations. Billy later joined Chris Botti's band. Chris had just landed an opening spot for Sting's tour which enabled Billy to play to a more diverse audience.

Although he has achieved notable success as a sideman in concert and on recordings, Billy's first love is creating and performing his own music. Influenced by the funk and fusion music of his youth, Billy began to write his own music and made his first recording, “While Ur Sleepin’”. Later he assembled some of his peers, Kenny Davis, Mike Sim and George Colligan to form BK Groove. They came together as seasoned musicians, reading each other like a favorite book, anticipating the next move perfectly, stepping out to solo at the perfect moment and keeping the groove going at all times. Their music is diverse, original and inspired. They began performing and developing a new energy of their own which led them back to the studio to record. Like Billy, they all had diverse backgrounds and the project became a summation of their collective musical experiences. His second album, Pot's & Pans is a jazz/funk/fusion project with a special nod to drummers. His third album Rhythm Dancer is a live project of BK Groove.

His latest upcoming recording is his first with his Trio. Here Billy is chasing his roots in Jazz Drumming. Recalling his experiences with Ahmad Jamal, Hank Jones, Dave Holland as well as Bob James and George Duke. This new recording “Descension Rising” was inspired by the strength of many that have overcome obstacles of life. One of his family members had a health scare that really shook Billy. It took a deep amount of faith to overcome this turn in his family’s life. No matter what obstacles are in front of Billy, he is on a constant quest in mastering the skills of drumming. His dedication and persistence put him on the path to resilience. Descension Rising is the embodiment of that faith. This is one of Billy’s most moving recordings.

The drummer, educator and now author is sharing his experiences with his fans around the world. However he always says nothing is greater than sharing each and every moment of his history as well as knowledge with his students at Berklee. Billy says “no doubt besides my family my students are my greatest inspiration.”

Website: http://www.billykilson.com/

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