Bill Ware’s most prominent and enduring band relationship began in 1987 when he joined saxophonist Roy Nathanson, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, and guitarist Marc Ribot as a charter member of the internationally renowned seven member jazz group, The Jazz Passengers. Bill’s role in the Jazz Passengers exceeds that of a virtuosic vibraphonist and rhythm section player – as he has served the band for decades as arranger, composer, librarian and more…. Visit the Jazz Passengers website for much more!
In the 1990s, with a move from New Jersey to New York City, Ware began to investigate the emerging “acid jazz” scene. From this scene, the popular band Groove Collective emerged, including Bill and the horn section from Club Bird as charter members. After several months of gigging and touring, the Groove Collective was signed to a Warner Bros./Reprise record deal, produced by famed record producer Gary Katz. Groove Collective later signed to a new label, Shanakie Records and the group produced 3 CDs “Dance of the Drunken Master” “Declassified” and “It’s All in Your Mind” (including two Ware produced tracks). The band also toured extensively throughout USA and Europe in 2000 and 2001. Visit Groove Collective on Facebook.
From 1993-1995 Bill toured and recorded as a percussionist with Steely Dan in the United States and Japan. In the late summer of 1993, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker resurrected the Steely Dan name for the first tour in 19 years. Famed record producer Gary Katz, impressed with Bill’s talents, recommended him to Donald Fagen who was looking for a percussionist to record and tour with his infamous band. They put together an all-star band dubbed the “Steely Dan Orchestra”, including Bill Ware III: vibes, Drew Zingg: electric guitar, Warren Bernhardt: keyboards, Cornelius Bumpus: saxophone, Bob Sheppard: saxophone, Chris Potter: saxophone, Tom Barney: electric bass, Peter Erskine: drums, Brenda White-King: vocals, Catherine Russell: vocals, Diane Garisto: vocals. The “Alive in America” tour received great acclaim during 1993-96, performing mainly songs from the later Steely Dan albums plus a selection of re-arranged Dan classics, and they released a live CD compiled from recordings of several 1993 and 1994 concerts, Alive in America in 1995 (Giant Records).
The Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet is a stunning exploration of the textural cascades created between Rez Abbasi’s acoustic guitar playing and Bill Ware’s multi-faceted vibraphone playing. Abbasi fills out the quartet with bassist Stephan Crump (Vijay Iyer Trio), and drummer Eric McPherson (Andrew Hill). Through RAAQ, Abbasi features his own compositions alongside “gems from other composers that are rarely heard today.” The quartet’s first release, “Natural Selection” (Sunnyside 2010) captures the profound sensitivity of the ensemble as it twists and turns throughout the set, with compositions such as Abbasi’s “Up On The Hill” (dedicated to pianist, Andrew Hill), Keith Jarrett’s “Personal Mountains”, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Lament”. Natural Selection earned 4 stars in Downbeat and was voted one of the Best Albums of the Year from the well respected, Jazz Journalists Association. In February 2015 RAAQ released “Intents and Purposes”, where the group showcases captivating acoustic renditions of electrically charged jazz-rock classics from Weather Report, Return To Forever, Herbie Hancock, Mahavishnu and more! Available on Amazon. Check out a 30 minute broadcast from Newport on NPR’s JazzSet with DeeDee Bridgewater HERE and the All About Jazz Review. Here’s a video of the recording of Intents and Purposes.
Drummer Bobby Previte, widely hailed for his electrifying drumming and his stunning, unclassifiable compositions, invited Bill to join his latest incarnation of his fabled Bump band with the recording “Set the Alarm for Monday”. The New Bump recorded in 2008 and toured the Northeastern US and Europe in 2009. Bobby Previte – drums, Ellery Eskelin – tenorsax, Bill Ware – vibraphone, Brad Jones – bass. Youtube video – January 8, 2010 at Kenny’s Castaways