(Hammond B3 & Keys)
Blades, a native Chicagoan, has become the San Francisco Bay Area’s first call organist and is rapidly gaining momentum throughout the world. For several years, he has been named in the Downbeat critics poll under “Rising Star” for organ. Wil has kept the traditional sounds of Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and “Groove” Holmes alive, while creating a more personal, modern sound. Wil has performed and recorded with John Lee Hooker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Joe Louis Walker, Don Braden, Donald Harrison, Karl Denson, Will Bernard, Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore, Anders Osborne Scott Amendola and many others.
Over the past fifteen years, Blades has grown to be one of the most in-demand organ players on the Bay Area scene. In addition to leading his own trio, he works regularly in duo situations with drummers Billy Martin (Medeski Martin and Wood) and Scott Amendola (Nels Cline Singers); and in trios led by guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Stanton Moore. He’s performed and recorded with a host of jazz and blues greats including Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Joe Louis Walker, Don Braden, Donald Harrison, Nicholas Payton, Karl Denson, Charlie Hunter, Jason Marsalis, Herlin Riley, and many others.
Not long after Blades’ arrival in California, Dr. Lonnie Smith came to town to play a week of shows at the renowned club Yoshi’s with fellow organ great Jimmy McGriff. “I went to every single set,” Blades says. “The music was so soulful, it was addictive.” Finally mustering the nerve to approach Dr. Lonnie, Blades found an eager mentor; the two continue to play duo shows to this day.
“A lot of older guys really want the music to be carried on, and the old school method was not jazz college, it was mentorship,” Blades says. “Lonnie has really taken me under his wing. It’s always an amazing experience to get to play with him; he really is one of my heroes.”
From cookin' with Blues legend John Lee Hooker, organ summits with B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith, television and radio appearances, young Wil Blades is gaining critical acclaim and international recognition. Blades, a native Chicagoan, has become the San Francisco Bay Area's first call organist and is rapidly gaining momentum throughout the country. In 2007, he was named in the Downbeat critics poll under "Rising Star" for organ. For the past several years, Wil has been wowing Bay Area audiences with groups such as "O.G.D.," "Motherbug", "Amendola Vs. Blades", "Steppin'." In addition to performing with legendary artists such as John Lee Hooker and Dr. Lonnie Smith, Wil has performed and recorded with Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Joe Louis Walker, Don Braden, Betty Joplin, Will Bernard, Scott Amendola, Stanton Moore, Oscar Myers, Eddie Marshall, Herbie Lewis, and many others. Born in 1979, Wil began playing drums at the age of 8, guitar at 13, and then found his true calling on Hammond B-3 at 19. While studying Jazz at New College of California with Herbie Lewis, Wil landed weekly gigs at John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room in San Francisco. Barely of legal age, veteran musicians, such as Oscar Myers, took him under their wings. Being self-taught on organ, the weekly gigs proved to be the best lessons of all. In the years since, Wil has received tutelage from Jazz Organ master, Dr. Lonnie Smith. "Yeah, he does it...he's on it. He is the future to carry on the legend, the legacy of the organ, [of] the B-3." Wil has kept the traditional sounds of Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and "Groove" Holmes alive, while creating a more personal, modern sound. In Wil's words, "I feel indebted to the tradition and masters of the Hammond Organ, but while trying to keep it going, I'm also focused on bringing my contemporary influences to the table." His playing is rhythmic, funky and bluesy, yet his original compositions are harmonically intriguing and unique. Wil currently leads his own groups around the Bay Area and is dedicating his time to teaching the Hammond B-3 Organ privately and at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. Musical collaborations include groups with guitarist Will Bernard, Jazz legend Idris Muhammad and a duo project with drummer Scott Amendola.
WHAT THEY BEEN SAYIN’ ABOUT WIL …
“Yeah, he does it...he’s on it. He is the future to carry on the legend, the legacy of the organ, [of] the B-3.”
-Dr. Lonnie Smith
"That boy's cookin'! That boy's cookin’!"
-John Lee Hooker
"With Field Notes, Blades joins other contemporary organ trios like Medeski, Martin and Wood by paying homage to the soulful roots of the sound while at the same time establishing himself as composer and performer firmly focused on the future at intersection of jazz and funk."
-The Vinyl District
"Field Notes is keenly focused yet brimming with ideas. It extends the B-3 trio tradition by using the rudiments of greasy tuneology in tandem with a wider jazzman's palette of colors and textures that creates new lyric possibilities for hip, funky grooves."
“Wil Blades has to be one of the most promising cats on the music scene today. His pulsating, hard groovin’ style on the Hammond B-3 is reminiscent of many great players, but with a flair that is distinctly his own.”
"Wil Blades is already a legend on the Hammond B-3 organ...On his debut album, Sketchy, released in August on Doodlin' Records, Blades showcases a smooth, funky sound that recalls heroes like Jimmy Smith without being slavishly derivative.“