Bill O'Connell

Jazz Composition, Jazz Arrangement

Bill O’Connell is a native New Yorker who studied classical composition at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Early in his career, he played and composed in various salsa and jazz settings that set the tone for his musical style.

In 1977, he joined salsa musician Mongo Santamaria, writing and performing with him for more than two years. Following that he worked with Chet Baker and Sonny Rollins. He toured with Rollins in the United States and Europe.

O'Connell has his original compositions on CDs by Santamaria, Emily Remler, Charles Fambrough, and on many recordings made by flutist Dave Valentin. He has also written for television including a documentary about Latin jazz artist Tito Puente.

O'Connell has wrote and arranged for numerous other jazz artists, including vocalists Jon Lucien, Kenny Rankin, and Astrud Gilberto as well as Gato Barbieri, and the Fort Apache Band. O'Connell was featured as a pianist and arranger on the 2010 CD by trombonist Conrad Herwig, The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock.

O'Connell's eight solo recordings, which are predominantly his own compositions, are Searching on the Inner City label; Love for Sale on the Pony Canyon Label; Signature, featuring Bill O’Connell on the Blue Moon Mesa label; Lost Voices on the CTI label; Black Sand and Latin Jazz Fantasy on the Random Chance label; Triple Play on the Savant label; and most recently Rhapsody in Blue on the Challenge/Twinz label.

On four separate occasions, O'Connell was the recipient of the “Jazz Writer of the Year” award from SESAC, the performing rights organization.

O'Connell performs with Dave Valentin, Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side, his trio Triple Play, his quintet, and teaches at Rutgers University.