Bill Kirchner is a composer-arranger, saxophonist, bandleader, educator, record and radio producer, and jazz historian. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Bill graduated in 1975 from Manhattan College in New York City. From then until 1980, he lived in Washington, D.C., playing with the Mike Crotty big band, the Bernard Sweetney quartet, and his own groups.
Since July 1980, Bill has lived in New York City. A few months after moving to New York, Bill began the Bill Kirchner Nonet. His intent was to have an ensemble with the intimacy and adventurousness of the best small groups and the power and excitement of a big band. Most of the Nonet's compositions and arrangements -- rich in tonal, harmonic, and rhythmic colors -- are by Bill. The players, improvisers all, are among New York's finest. The Bill Kirchner Nonet has appeared at major festivals, concerts, and nightclubs throughout the United States.
Bill's arrangements, in addition to those for his Nonet, have been recorded by Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Konitz, the Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble, and singer Patti Austin. Among his sideman credits as a player are live performances or recordings with Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra; the American Jazz Orchestra; singers Anita O'Day, Chris Connor, Sheila Jordan, Karen Akers, and Anita Gravine; violinist Joe Kennedy, Jr.; bassist Reggie Johnson; and bandleaders Mousie Alexander, Ray Anthony, Mario Bauza, Larry Elgart, Tom Pierson, Tito Puente, and Bobby Rosengarden.
As a leader, Bill has appeared extensively as a saxophonist in duo, trio, and quartet settings. In 1989, he and pianist Michael Abene were among the first American jazz artists to play concerts in Taiwan.
Since 1992, Bill has been closely involved with new and reissued jazz recordings--as a producer, compiler, and liner-notes annotator--for Blue Note, BMG, Challenge, Columbia, Denon/Savoy, Fantasy, GRP, Mosaic, the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings, Verve, and Warner Bros.
Bill is the editor of The Oxford Companion to Jazz (Oxford University Press, 2000) and A Miles Davis Reader (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997).
He teaches advanced jazz composition, jazz history, and score analysis at The New School University in New York City. He also teaches a master's-level jazz history course in the jazz program at New Jersey City University, and a Duke Ellington Course at Manhattan School of Music.
For National Public Radio (), he has produced and written one-hour of Benny Carter, Artie Shaw, Johnny Mandel, and Bob Brookmeyer.
1996 Grammy® for "Best Album Notes"
Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings
- "...composer-arranger-author Bill Kirchner puts his finger on the magic of this most amazing team...."--Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times
1995 NAIRD Indie award for "Best Liner Notes"
SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF RECORDINGS:
Big Band Renaissance: The Evolution of the Jazz Orchestra
(a 5-CD survey of orchestral jazz from 1941 to 1991), which Bill co-produced, and for which he also picked the 75 selections and wrote the award-winning 88-page booklet.
"Not only has Kirchner chosen provocative, high-quality selections, he's unearthed some obscure ones...to whet collectors' appetites." --Harvey Pekar, Cleveland Plain Dealer
2001 Award for "Best Jazz Book"
THE OXFORD COMPANION TO JAZZ
Bill Kirchner, Editor
Jazz Journalists' Association
"A significant achievement that should reside on every jazz bookshelf...."
-- Larry Appelbaum, Jazz Times
1999 Award for "Outstanding Service to Jazz Education"
BILL KIRCHNER/MICHAEL ABENE DUO
IAJE (Int'l Assoc. of Jazz Educators) Convention
From 1983 to 1999, "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition--Arranger":
placed 8 times in the International Critics' Poll
1990 "Best Emerging Talent--Arranger":
winner (tied with Wynton Marsalis) Critics' Poll
1979 NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Jazz Study Grant :
for composing-arranging studies with Rayburn Wright, Eastman School of Music