billy bang vision festival 2006

Instrument: Violin
Date of Birth: September 20, 1947
Death: April 11, 2011
Place of Birth: Mobile, Alabama

Born William Vincent Walker, Billy studied violin as a youngster growing up in New York's South Bronx.

In the early 60's he abandoned the violin for percussion, getting into Afro-Cuban rhythms. Drafted to Vietnam, he had a political awakening and returned to America to throw himself into the anti-war movement. When he began to play music again in 1971 he experimented with saxophones, but came back to the violin, recognizing that this was where his technical facility lay. Bang became known as an associate of Sam Rivers and Frank Lowe, playing was an essential component of the celebrated Loft scene.

In the early 70's he formed his own group, The Survival Ensemble, and in 1977 co-founded the String Trio Of New York. Associations with Sun Ra, Don Cherry, Marilyn Crispell and James Blood Ulmer were also productive.

Like other musicians of his generation, Bang refuses categories; from elegant free jazz and austere art music to playing on Bootsy Collin's comeback album. In 1988 Bang toured Europe and recorded with a quartet that comprised Charles, Lowe and Sirone.


  • 1979: Distinction without a Difference (hat Hut)
  • 1979: Sweet Space (Anima)
  • 1981: Rainbow Gladiator (Soul Note)
  • 1982: Invitation (Soul Note)
  • 1982: Bangception, Willisau 1982 (hatOLOGY)
  • 1982: Live at Green Space (Anima)
  • 1983: Outline No. 12 (Celluloid)
  • 1984: The Fire from Within (Soul Note)
  • 1986: Live at Carlos 1 (Soul Note)
  • 1991: Valve No. 10 (Soul Note)
  • 1992: A Tribute to Stuff Smith (with Sun Ra, John Ore, Andrew Cyrille, Soul Note)
  • 1996: Spirits Gathering (CIMP)
  • 1997: Bang On! (Justin Time)
  • 1997: Commandment (No More)
  • 1999: Big Bang Theory (Justin Time)
  • 2001: Vietnam: The Aftermath (Justin Time)
  • 2003: Hip Hop Bebop (ITM)
  • 2004: Vietnam: Reflections (Justin Time)
  • 2004: Configuration (with Sirone, Silkheart Records)
  • 2007: Above and Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids (Justin Time)

with the Jazz Doctors

  • Intensive Care (1984)
  • The Fire From Within (1985)
  • Live At Carlos I (1987)

with Kahil El'Zabar

  • Another Kind Of Groove (1987)
  • Valve No 10 (1991)

Sources: Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Wikipedia

Wikipedia page:

MySpace Page:

More Info: VIOLENCE, VETERANS, VIOLINS: A discussion with reknowned jazz musician Billy Bang article and interview by Erich Christiansen 2009



New York Times


Amazon: Billy Bang

iTunes: Billy Bang

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