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Bill Potts

(4.3.28-2.16.05)

Bill Potts

Arranger/pianist Bill Potts was born with an individual musical voice and a sense of purpose. He didn’t have to “learn to swing.” In fact, he was incapable of playing or writing anything that didn’t feel inevitable. It’s also been said by many musicians that Bill’s charts “play themselves” as the writing is so natural. His writing was also sophisticated, elegant, sometimes unpredictable and always full of heart.

A native of Arlington, Va., Bill spent close to 12 years in New York bookended by periods of prominence on the Washington, D.C., area scene. In the mid-’50s he cut his teeth arranging for the Orchestra, a nationally recognized, D.C.-based big band that was presented by Voice of America’s Willis Conover. Potts’ sense of uplifting, lyrical swing was already in evidence on those early efforts. The band hosted a series of special guests, including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. There was also a weeklong gig in 1956 leading a local trio backing up Lester Young that was recorded and released on a series of Pablo recordings beginning in 1980.

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