Bill’s career as a performer spans 4 decades!
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 7, 1958, Bill was instantly immersed in music by his parents and three of his grandparents, who were all music teachers. At age 5, after moving to upstate New York, he started piano lessons and later studied cello and trombone. Throughout high school Bill played cello in the orchestra, trombone in the concert and marching bands, sang in the jazz choir and played piano in the jazz band.
Although classically trained, receiving “A” grades at state piano competitions, Bill developed an interest in jazz and rock genres. His first professional gig, at age 14, was a piano/trumpet duo.
Various trios, quartets and quintets followed, encompassing music from Louis Armstrong to Charlie Parker, as well as Santana, The Allman Bros., Steely Dan, Chicago, and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Bill played his own solo piano arrangement of “Laura” on a live radio show.
After Berklee College of Music, Bill moved to Los Angeles and began to work in Musical Theatre. For two years he accompanied such performers as: Robin Williams, Arsenio Hall, Jay Leno, Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal and Rodney Dangerfield at The Comedy Store in Hollywood. Also, he was the pianist/musical director for several shows and vocal performance workshops. It was during this period that Bill worked for jazz vocalist Rose Weaver, actress/comedienne Kaye Ballard, vocalist Sam Harris, and actress/singer Karen Black.
Additionally as a player, Bill landed a gig as the pianist/musical director for multi-platinum vocalist Maxine Nightingale. This was followed by a two year stint with L.A.-based 13 piece r&b/soul band “The Real Deal.” Other notable bands included Discovery Records smooth jazz saxophonist Sonja Jason, Michael McDonald’s sax player Vince Denham, and former bassist for Ray Charles, Adam Cohen. Bill also toured for 3 years with the latin/rock group, Sudden Move Band.
One of Bill’s goals was to form his own contemporary jazz quartet, which he did in 1992. Bill featured his compositions and monster chops in his band, which has performed in Southern California for thousands of people.
In 2000, Bill joined the 7-piece Latin band “Chico.” This band performs over 100 concerts per year and received a Resolution from the city of Los Angeles on October 8, 2004 for outstanding contributions to the community. Bill, aka “Guillermo Llaves,” is well-known for his ability to play Salsa.
In recent years, Bill has had the pleasure of performing as the musical director/pianist with:
Mark Isham, Michael Duff, Lilly Hayden, Billy Sheehan, MC Lyte, Alexander Markov, Chick Corea, Steve Oliver, Edgar Winter, Chaka Khan, The Pointer Sisters, David Campbell, Maxine Nightingale, Sal Marquez, Eric Rigler (Bagpiper from Titanic), Izzy Chait and many others.
He has performed at countless venues in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Diego, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, San Jose, Tokyo, Japan, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico including B.B. Kings, Hollywood Palladium, The Troubadour, Ambassador Auditorium, Shrine Auditorium, Paramount Studios, Baked Potato, La Vee Lee, The Comedy Store, The Coconut Club, Catalina Bar & Grill, Disney Concert Hall.