Pianist Bill Mays’ career as a professional musician spans the last 55 years and includes a multitude of musical endeavors. Following four years as a bandsman in the U.S. Navy Bill spent 15 years as a session player in the Hollywood studios. In 1984 he re-located to New York City, firmly establishing himself as an in-demand sideman and leader of his own ensembles. He has worked with jazz legends Benny Golson, Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell, Gerry Mulligan, Bud Shank, Frank Sinatra, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Sarah Vaughan, and Phil Woods. His many recordings as a leader (solo, duo, trio and sextet) are well-documented on the Chiaroscuro, Concord, DMP, Palmetto, and Steeplechase record labels.
A prolific composer and arranger, Mays has written many extended suites for bass, flute, woodwind septet, and pieces for big band and orchestra (New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Turtle Creek Chorale, WDR Big Band, U.S. Air Force Airmen Of Note). His latest recordings include Phil & Bill (with saxophonist Phil Woods), Side By Side: Sondheim Duos (with bassist Tommy Cecil), Life’s A Movie (with cellist Alisa Horn and trumpeter Marvin Stamm), and Front Row Seat (solo piano). Mays’ songs have been used in the movies Anamorph, Burn After Reading, Hamlet, Looker, and The Fifth Estate. His keyboard work has been heard on hundreds of film soundtracks, among them Fargo, Fur, Godfather 2, Hail, Caesar!, Jaws 2, Julie & Julia, Rocky 2, Superman, The Big Lebowski, and The Spanish Prisoner.
Last year Mays received rave reviews with the publication of his first book,
Stories Of The Road, The Studios, Sidemen & Singers: 55 Years In The Music Biz.
Awards and Honors:
• Arranger, pianist and producer on Grammy-nominated Bop For Kerouac (Mark Murphy/Muse) • Pianist on Gold Album Paradise Cafe (Barry Manilow/Arista Records)
• “Talent Deserving Of Wider Recognition” in the piano category, Downbeat Magazine
• Nominated for “Most Valuable Player” Award, Los Angeles
• International Society of Bassists: “Friend Of The Bass”
• Performance grants from Meet The Composer, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, N.E.A., PennPAT