Bill Pierce

born September 25, 1948

Instrument tenor sax
Birthplace Hampton, VA

Available Leadsheets

Bill Pierce is known in the jazz world for both his innovative hard bop playing and his distinguished career as an educator. He hails from a musical family in Florida, with parents both educators who emphasized the value of music; he took up the saxophone early.

During his college years at Berklee College of Music he studied with Joe Viola and Andy McGhee while gigging steadily at the now-defunct iconic R&B joint, the Sugar Shack, at night. He briefly paused his studies to tour with superstars Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. After returning to Berklee and graduating, he became a faculty member in 1975.

He began touring with James Williams and shared the front line with Wynton Marsalis and Bobby Watson in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1980-1982, for which he served as a musical director. He has also worked with greats such as Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Alan Dawson, and Elvin Jones. From 1986 through 1994, he was a regular member of Tony Williams's quintet, with which he created five recordings. He has released several albums as a leader on the Sunnyside label.

After several years of more record dates and tours with Blakey, Bill returned to Berklee, where he became an associate professor in the Woodwind Department. Today he is an internationally renowned educator, hosting clinics in Europe, Asia, South America, and throughout the U.S. He also continues to be a leading voice in jazz, having appeared on over 90 records to date as a sideman and released 11 of his own as leader.