Bill Cunliffe

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About Bill Cunliffe


Jazz pianist, composer and Grammy Award-winning arranger Bill Cunilffe is known for his innovative and swinging recordings and compositions. The winner of several Down Beat awards for his big band and orchestral pieces toured as pianist and arranger with the Buddy Rich Big Band and worked with Frank Sinatra, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson and James Moody. He currently plays with his trio, his big band and his Latin band, Imaginación, and performs in the U.S. and around the world as a leader and sideman.
His most recent album is “Three’s Company,” with flutist Holly Hofmann and guest artists including violinist Regina Carter and clarinetist Ken Peplowski (Capri Records, 2010).
Cunliffe is a winner of the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition and has received stipends from the National Endowment for the Arts. Orchestras across the country and overseas have performed his works, and many of his recordings have charted in nationwide jazz polls.
In addition to his work as jazz studies professor at Cal State Fullerton, Cunliffe teaches at the Skidmore Jazz Institute and the Vail Jazz Workshop.
His books “Jazz Keyboard Toolbox” and “Jazz Inventions for Keyboard” (Alfred Music Publishing) are standard jazz reference works.
Cunliffe, who has received four Grammy nominations and two Emmy nominations, was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for 2009 for "West Side Story Medley,” on the album “Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson” (Resonance Records). He was nominated in 2010 for Best Instrumental Composition for his concerto for trumpet and orchestra, “fourth stream … La Banda,” performed by Terell Stafford and the Temple University Symphony Orchestra (BCM+D Records).

The Los Angeles Jazz Society also honored Cunliffe in 2010 with its Composer/Arranger Award.

Cunliffe studied jazz at Duke University with pianist Mary Lou Williams and received his master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music.

Bill Cunliffe joined the JazzTimes community on Aug 24, 2012