When pianist Bill O’Connell finished his schooling at Oberlin, he returned home to New York City and got to work right away with Mongo Santamaria.
Bill would go on to play with Sonny Rollins and Chet Baker, too, but his love of Latin, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music would draw him closer. His passion for jazz with Latin seasoning led him to work with Jerry Gonzalez, Papo Vazquez — and, in a long and fruitful association, flutist Dave Valentin.
He has further explored this music on his own albums, including Zócalo, Monk’s Cha-Cha — and Jazz Latin, a new group effort which he’ll celebrate at Jazz Standard on Tuesday night, with saxophonist Craig Handy, flutist Andrea Brachfeld, drummer Richie Barshay and a former Valentin bandmate, bassist Lincoln Goines.
Bill stopped by Morning Jazz to chat and demonstrate his twist on standards and inspirations for his own compositions. Watch him play "Monk’s Cha-Cha."
Recording mix: Corey Goldberg
Video: Chris Tobin