I'm a graduate of DePaul University, and I've been a performer, teacher and clinician for nearly thirty years. My jazz credits include work with Clark Terry, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Kenny Burrell, Frank Wess, Bunky Green, Woody Herman Band, Joe Daley and many others.
I have worked extensively in the Chicago theater, both in the pit and onstage as a musician and actor. Credits include the long running Always...Patsy Cline, Wicked, The Lion King, Showboat, Sunset Boulevard, Singin' In The Rain, Scrooge, Peter Pan, Sweet Charity, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, West Side Story, Camelot and the world premieres of The Visit, Turn of the Century and Bounce at Goodman Theatre.
My teachers were Chicago Symphony Orchestra bassists Mark Kraemer and Warren Benfield and the legendary cellist Karl Fruh at Roosevelt University. I studied piano with Goldie Goloub, jazz theory with Alan Swain and arranging with Cliff Colnot.
My teaching experience includes private lessons and coaching jazz ensembles at the American Conservatory of Music and at Chicago State University. As a clinician, I spent many summers at Clark Terry's Great Plains Jazz Camp, taught at the Saskatchewan Summer School for the Arts and did a week of master classes at the Montreux Jazz Festival as a member of the Bunky Green Quartet. I've also taught and coached young rockers at DayJams Summer Camp.
Notable recordings include: Mood Swings (Peter Polzak and myself), Spirits in the Material World (Megon McDonough), Crossfire (Maggie), Whatever We Imagine (Janice Borla), At Long Last (Tony Andriacchi), The Story So Far (Bill Harrison Quintet), ChicagoJazz (Roger Pemberton).
I currently work as a freelance bassist in theatres, clubs, hotels and for private and corporate events. I have a teaching studio in Chicago and I also give bass lessons via Skype. I've created and posted a number of bass instruction videos on YouTube.
I've also been writing a column for Bass Musician Magazine since 2010. You can check out those lessons HERE.
The foundation of my playing is credited to my 4-5 years of study with Bill Harrison. His lessons encompassed not only the concept of bass playing but also brought about the understanding of full musicality: How a single note could shift the harmonic textures, the delay or anticipation of that note adding excitement to a solo or soloist, the "awareness" of time, managing of time in an ensemble and developing skills to move about not only on the bass, but to interact equally with each musician around him/or/herself. If I weren't so far away, I'd still be studying with him.
— Edo Castro
Solo Artist/Composer and Freelance Bassist in Berkeley CA
Bill always found a way to distill his many years of playing and study in succinct, palatable, tidbits that not only conveyed the appropriate information, but inspired as well...
— Steven Reinfranck
Professional Bassist and Instructor
I've watched the wonderful videos you've posted on YouTube. For me, they are more than just instructional videos. They've given me some good ideas for how to be a better teacher. Thank you so much for all your hard work in bringing us good, solid jazz bass education. I've looked through a lot of the on-line bass sites and it's my estimation that your material is by far the best.
— Luis Oleson
I must compliment you on your teaching. I think it's usually easy for a good teacher to spot things a student needs to work on but pretty rare that a teacher communicates, like you do, in a way that the student can grasp quickly and begin to work efficiently toward improvement. It was a pleasure for me!!!
— Curt Bley
Chicago area pro bassist who has performed with a wide variety of national stars including the 5th Dimension, Herb Ellis, Florence Henderson, Suzanne Sommers, Dweezil Zappa, Big Guitars From Memphis, the Drifters, George Benson, the Coasters, John Gary, and Jeff Lorber.
Bill Harrison is the ultimate player's teacher. He has a vast store of teaching techniques, which he uses to custom tailor lessons specifically to the needs of each student. So whether your goal is to become a great reader, nail music theory, or just make your playing more efficient and musical, Bill will help you get there.
— Helena Bouchez
Bassist, writer and purveyor of PR
Helena B Communications
Bill is an accomplished professional in constant demand in the greater Chicago area. However, he is also an ideal teacher. He has been endlessly patient with me as I work through various skills and concepts. He is innovative in his teaching methods - when one lesson or practice method doesn't help me master a skill, he'll come up with another approach. Finally, the highest praise I can give is that he has the best interests of the student in mind. When I come to a lesson, he has already considered my current level of knowledge and ability and what he might do to help me achieve my goals. Bill is one of the main reasons I have come as far as I have over the last year.
— David A. Rogers
Sr. Software Engineer, SPSS Inc
I started taking lessons with Bill as a self-taught mostly functional bass player with lots of other musical experience. Bill's lessons have been tailored to match the areas where I am weakest (technique) as well as the things I am most interested in, rather than "stock" lessons that don't take my background into account. Within just a few months, we've also covered music theory, composition, equipment (basses and amps), auditioning for and playing with a band, and the role of the bass in different kinds of music. It's not just about playing the bass; it's about being the kind of musician you want to be.
— Jake Bartalone
Bill Harrison is a skilled, knowledgeable, generous and thoughtful bass instructor. Many musicians give lessons out of necessity but their hearts aren't in it and the student gets the short end of the stick. This is not the case with Bill. He cares enough to take his work as a teacher seriously. He seamlessly evaluates my current skill level and structures lessons and exercises to build upon those skills. He remembers what I'm working on and follows up on it, allowing me the opportunity for growth as a musician.
— Michael Freeman
I just thought I would take the trouble to write and say what an inspiration your YouTube lessons are and what a good website you have. I doubled a lot in UK on Sousaphone in Dixieland trios and quartets and have had a string bass in the outdoor music room for years. Thanks to your beautiful playing and ability to convey musical sense, the bass is now indoors and it gets played everyday.
— Fred Ward
Trombonist, Bassist and author of Inner Vision for Trombone
I loved working with you. Bill, you are a great bass player. Every second I felt in great hands. Loved every minute!!!!
— Karen Mason
Singer Extraordinaire, Star of Cabaret and Broadway
Bill Harrison is as fine a bassist as Chicago (or many other cities) has to offer. I have worked in a number of different musical configurations with Bill over the years, from doing my duo with him, to playing in full orchestras and everything in between. His mastery of styles makes him invaluable to whatever the musical objective is, be a pop band, a theater production, a jazz ensemble, or performing legitimate musical scores. In addition, Bill understand the extra-musical support role that can be so helpful to adjusting to today's industry demands.
Singer, guitarist and President of Alias Madman, Inc.
Bill Harrison is an awesome, creative musician, a master of all styles of improvisation.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer, faculty New England Conservatory
Bill Harrison has the perfect combination of skill, sensitivity and creativity wrapped up with a touch of wit. A musician that defines the art of balance through his musicality and versatility. But the best part is the integrity and humanity he brings to each performance.
— Ellen Johnson
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