Bill Warfield

“There’s plenty for jazz and funk fans to savor here, and Warfield’s Hell’s Kitchen Funk Orchestra delivers a tasty meal for the ears.”
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Bill Milkowski
contributor to Down Beat and Jazziz magazines and author of “Jaco”

Since his 1988 opus, New York City Jazz, trumpeter-composer-arranger Bill Warfield has been widely known as a dyed-in-the-wool big band guy. Last year’s Trumpet Story, with special guest Randy Brecker, was more evidence of that, as were successful outings on behalf of guitarist Dave Styker (1994’s Nomad) and saxophonist Dave Liebman (2009’s Le Jazz Hot).

This time out, Warfield had something completely different in mind. As he explained, “The original idea was to do a mid ‘60s Miles kind of thing, and as I got more into it and started thinking about it, my roots are really in rhythm ‘n’ blues. All the bands I played in growing up in Baltimore were Motown bands and funk bands and Atlantic Starr kinds of bands. Baltimore is like the Oakland of the East Coast in that regard. A lot of great players in that genre are from Baltimore.”

That funky side of things is well represented on this project dubbed ‘The Hell’s Kitchen Funk Orchestra’ by their intrepid leader, who resides in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan. But to call it just a funk band is far too limiting for this remarkably versatile outfit. Indeed, few other bands have the wherewithal to go from Joe Zawinul to Tito Puente, Fats Waller, Eddie Harris and Snarky Puppy in a single record. Anchored by the flexible rhythm tandem of bassist Steve Count and drummer Scott Neumann (a longtime collaborator of Warfield’s) and featuring an international flavor in the cast of players, this slamming affair contains the sophisticated harmonies and horn voicings of some of Warfield’s previous large ensemble projects while always being mindful of the groove. “We had a Hammond B-3 organ player (Jakub Zomer) from the Czech Republic, the guitarist (Libor Smoldas) is also from Prague, and one of the alto saxophone players (Jens Christian Jensen) is from Denmark,” says Warfield. “Those are people I have worked with in Europe over the years and I was pleased to get them for this project.”

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Bill Warfield graduated from the Manhattan School of Music where he was garnered with the Maynard Ferguson Scholarship, the William H. Borden Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Jazz, and the Carmine Caruso Award for Outstanding Trumpet Performance. During that time, he studied composition with a number of jazz' most acclaimed composers - among them Hank Levy and Bob Brookmeyer - before embarking on his career as a professional trumpeter and arranger. Warfield has released nine previous albums leading his own ensembles and has appeared in the horn sections of numerous other albums, including two by the acclaimed Bill Kirchner Nonet. Over the years he has performed with such artists as Ornette Coleman, Mel Torme, Mel Lewis, David Liebman and Sonny Stitt.

He received a commission from the Spanish government to arrange and produce "Hollywood Jazz" for the 1992 Olympics in that country, and has also been commissioned by the Berlin Radio Orchestra and the US Air Force "Airmen Of Note." In addition, Warfield is the founder and director of the New York Jazz Repertory Orchestra as well as its offshoot, the New York Jazz Octet, and also the Lehigh Valley Jazz Repertory