Billy Wallace Jazz Pianist Bio

Billy Wallace ( William James Wallace) born August 20th, 1929 in Milwaukee Wisconsin at Misericordia Hospital. Deceased Dec 7, 2017, Denver Colorado Brookshire House.

Billy Wallace came up in the bebop era and has been playing jazz since 1947. Billy Wallace started playing  boogie-woogie and transitioned thru the inception of the bebop era and is a master at the American Song book. Billy Wallace came up in the bebop era and has been playing jazz since 1947. He knows 5000 tunes by heart and the lyrics to 1000.

Billy Wallace, pianist, vocalist, saxophonist arranger and composer  began his musical career in 1946 with a high school band in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Within two years, Billy was working professionally with different bands on the road and in 1951, joined Illinois Jacquet.  Shortly thereafter Billy moved to Chicago where he recorded the first of many albums.

Billy’s next venture was with drummer Max Roach , with whom he worked in the USA and Canada during 1957.  A few years later he accompanied vocalist Johnny Janis at the re-knowned Living Room in New York. When the first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960, Billy played in the house band, an engagement that lasted for much of two years.

Billy Recorded with Billy Mitchel in 1962 and later recorded with Bunky Green, B.B. King, Jerry Butler, The Impressions, and The Dells.  He also accompanied such jazz greats as Carmen McRae, Johnny Hartman, Anita O’Day, Lou Rawls, Arthur Prysock and Johnny Nash. In the  mid-1960’s  Billy spent a year as accompanist to vocalist Doris Hines at the Sheraton-Ritz Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota: he then moved to the St. Paul Hilton where he spent five years in the house band. His Minnesota experience culminated in a recording session with Tommy Tipton in 1969.

Since moving To Denver, Colorado in 1971, Billy has worked as house pianist  in the best of Denver’s nightclubs and hotels including theWarehouse Restaurant (1972), Lafitte’s (1973-1975), Colorado Mine Company (1976-1982), The Sheraton-Denver Tech Center (1985-1986), and Stouffers Hotel (1986).  He has participated in  various concerts  including  the Gershwin Festival held at the Denver Auditorium in 1980, for which he arranged and performed music for an eight-piece band.  he has also performed at the Arvada Center for the Arts with the Cleo Parker Robinson dance Ensemble and Maya Angelou. In 1908, he recorded his “Coming Home” album and disc and wrote the title track.

In recent years, Billy’s musical virtuosity has reached new audiences through his performances overseas.  Durning 1983, he spent three months in Japan  playing at nightclubs in the Roppongi area of Tokyo. In 1987, he toured Norway for three months, and in July 1988, Billy made his debut at the celebrated annual Pori Jazz Festival in Finland.  Well-received by these audiences, Billy returned to Europe in 1989, playing a month-long engagement in Wiesbaden, West Germany, and was welcomed again in Japan in 1990.

Billy played at El Chapultepec in the house band, a prominent Denver jazz club, where some of the well known musicians  he has recently accompanied include Red Holloway, Slide Hampton, Pete Christlieb, Herb Ellis, Bill Watrous, Pete Condoli, and Eddie Harris. Billy still plays El Chapultepec with Freddie Rodrigues on occasion.

Billy has been married three times and has three lovely daughters and many grandchildren whom he loves dearly.