From cookin’ with Blues legend John Lee Hooker, organ summits with B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith, television and radio appearances, young Wil Blades is gaining critical acclaim and international recognition. Blades, a native Chicagoan, has become the San Francisco Bay Area’s first call organist and is rapidly gaining momentum throughout the country. In 2007 and 2008, he was named in the Downbeat critics poll under “Rising Star” for organ. For the past several years, Wil has been wowing Bay Area audiences with groups such as “O.G.D.,” “Motherbug”, “Amendola Vs. Blades”, “Steppin’.” In addition to performing with legendary artists such as John Lee Hooker and Dr. Lonnie Smith, Wil has performed and recorded with Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Joe Louis Walker, Don Braden, Donald Harrison, Karl Denson, Will Bernard, Scott Amendola, Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore, Betty Joplin, Eddie Marshall, Herbie Lewis, and many others.
Born in 1979, Wil began playing drums at the age of 8, guitar at 13, and then found his true calling on Hammond B-3 at 19. While studying Jazz at New College of California with Herbie Lewis, Wil landed weekly gigs at John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room in San Francisco. Barely of legal age, veteran musicians, such as Oscar Myers, took him under their wings. Being self-taught on organ, the weekly gigs proved to be the best lessons of all. In the years since, Wil has received tutelage from Jazz Organ master, Dr. Lonnie Smith. “Yeah, he does it…he’s on it. He is the future to carry on the legend, the legacy of the organ, [of] the B-3.”
Wil has kept the traditional sounds of Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and “Groove” Holmes alive, while creating a more personal, modern sound. In Wil’s words, “I feel indebted to the tradition and masters of the Hammond Organ, but while trying to keep it going, I’m also focused on bringing my contemporary influences to the table.” His playing is rhythmic, funky and bluesy, yet his original compositions are harmonically intriguing and unique.
Wil currently leads his own groups around the Bay Area and is dedicating his time to teaching the Hammond B-3 Organ privately and at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. Current musical collaborations include groups with guitarist Will Bernard, Jazz legend Idris Muhammad and a duo project with drummer Scott Amendola. Wil’s debut record, “Sketchy”, is now available on Doodlin’ Records.