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MONTHLY JAZZ NEWSLETTER:
Featured Artist: Willie Hill
CD Title: May I
Record Label: Joy Records
Style: Smooth Jazz
Musicians: Willie Hill (bass, acoustic guitar, drum programming, keyboards, percusssions)
In 2006, I reviewed Willie Hill’s Natural Evolution album, which I classified as having a purely soft, mellow, almost ethereal feel about it. It was an album expressly made for that consoling, pampering state of being, the one we yearn for right after a hard day at work. The multi-instrumentalist did an excellent job of luring me and several others, I’m sure into that quiet place of peace and reflection with island rhythms and caressing violins. May I picks up where Natural Evolution left off, leaving the door to “that place” open wide so as to allow us entry once again to experience the ultimate experience in solace through jazz and R&B.
The first and title track escorts us through the door with confidence and as we plop down in some mental soft cushiony chair, further serenades us with subtle island rhythms via tunes like “Just Jazzin” and “A Song For FeFe.” No tune is ever far away from the room where Hill places us, and it is truly comfortable. Nothing extremely complicated, no obscure timing, no electronic manipulations. Just very exotic, acoustic, placid, and melodic music. Hill turns a tune well in this direction. When he couples it with his magical strings reminiscent of Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra, it’s clear this is his area of expertise and he claims it definitively.
No stranger to the lazy, hazy blues of R&B, selections like “Wonderful” are handled with much finesse and the total R&B feel is even more evident here on cuts like “Ocean Waves.” Bottom line, Hill again delivers another aural treat.
Tracks: May I, Just Jazzin, It's Alright, Wonderful, Today I Feel You, Ocean Waves, A Song For FeFe, Falltime, Happiness
Record Label Website: http://www.cdbaby.com/williehill5
Reviewed by: Ronald Jackson
Biography by Philip Van Vleck
Willie Hill is a veteran musician who spent a number of years playing with touring R&B and soul acts before starting his own recording studio and record label in Durham, NC.
Hill is a native of Durham and attended North Carolina Central University (located in Durham), where he played trumpet in the University's marching band. He began playing guitar as a teenager and soon gravitated to bass guitar, a move which landed him his first band gig, at age 15.
By the age of 19, Hill was playing bass with the Communicators and had written a hit single, "One Chance," which was recorded by the group in 1974 and is featured on the 1999 album Lost Soul Oldies, Vol. 5.
Hill played with the Modulations in the mid-'70s, but left to play bass for Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts in 1977.
After playing with Clark on and off for eight years, Hill left the Hot Nuts and, in 1987, opened a recording studio, Inspire Productions, in Durham. He has since engineered for Lois Deloatch, Shirley Caesar, the NCCU Jazz Ensemble, Mickey Mills and Steel, Shabba Ranks, Norman Conners, Stanley Baird, and Gerald Hinton, as well as doing industrial work for IBM, BET, and Duke University.
Hill also started his own record label, Joy Records, in 1984. The label has been a vehicle for Hill's music and he has released eight albums since 1996, his current release, "May I".(2008). Hill also traveled to Europe for many years to promote his releases.
Hill was an adjunct professor at North Carolina Central University, teaching music production I&II.
Deep Inside Of Me-1996 Cd
Another Place In Time-1997 Cd
My Destination-1998 Cd
Some Love & Peace-1999 Cd
Open Door-2002 Cd
A Restful Day-2004 Cd
Songs are played on numerous radio stations worldwide