Billy Wallaces Rich Musical History

Billy Wallace a Virtuoso pianist

Billy played with played with some of the brightest luminaries of jazz during his lifetime.

Max Roach 
​Billy worked worked, toured, recorded with Max Roach. Recordings: Max Roach Plus 4 1956. Personnel, Max Roach-drums, Sonny Rollins, -tenor,Kenny Durham-trumpet, George Morrow, bass, Ray Bryant and Billy Wallace Piano.

Clifford Brown– Met him in Chicago. Clifford sat in with Billy and Billy sat in when Clifford was in Max Roaches band. Clifford Brown & Max Roach Live at the Bee Hive Chicago 1955 RAW GENIUS 2. JVC Records LP . Personnel: Clifford Brown-Trumpet, Max Roach-drums, Sonny Rollins and Nicky Hill-Tenor Saxes, George Morrow-bass, Leo Belvins- guitar, William Wallace (Billy)-piano. Clifford visited Billy’s home often.

Hank Mobley Billy played with him when he was with Max Roach. Hank took Sonny Rollins place. Billy also played with Sonny Rollins when he was with Max Roach’s band.

Nancy Wilson Played opposite her at Southerland Lounge inChicago. 1954-55

Carmen Mc Cray Billy met her in Chicago. Billy was the house band at the Southerland Hotel and she worked there.

Anita O’day also worked with his house band at the Southerland Hotel as well.

Floyd Standifer Trumpet, sax and vocalist. Billy met him in Seattle.

Illinois Jacquet Billy joined Illinois Jacquet band in 1951 and there were 3 trumpet Ernie Henry (alto sax former played with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band) Tom Archer (tenor) Leo parker (baritone sax).

Quincy Jones they met in Denver at DU. Quincy gave an arranging class Billy attended. While Billy was in Seattle, playing in the house band at El Gaucho, Quincy came by and listened with his new wife. Floyd Standifer was playing sax and trumpet and he had toured in Europe with Quincy’s Big band in the late 50’s.

Bill Lee (Spike Lee’s Father, son Arnold Lee) Billy and Bill Lee were very good friends in Chicago. They worked together and spent hours at each others house working on music. Billy says that Bill Lee is one of the greatest musicans he ever worked with. Recored with Frank Strozier on Cool Calm and Collected. Personnel: Billy Wallace-piano, Bill Lee-bass, drummer, Frank Strozier-alto.

Frank Foster Met him in Frank foster in Chicago and met him after Frank got out of the army (Vietnam) and joined Count Basie Orchestra. (Frank told Billy that his band had been wiped out by a bomb in Vietnam). Frank came in and sat in with Billy in a band he was playing with in Chicago and they told him about a session and his eye’s lite up. He came by the session and afterwards he went over to Billy’s house. Afterwards he took a cab to the train station to go to Milwaukee to see a saxophonist they knew in common Bunky Green.

Joe Newman  was a trumpeter Billy worked with when he was with Illinois Jacquet. He was quite helpful.

Clark Terry & Frank Foster Billy played with both of them in Denver at Clyde’s Pub. 

Russell Jacquet iBrother of Illinois Jacquet. Billy worked with him when he worked with Illinois Jacquet in 1958.

Lester Young Billy heard him in Des Moines Iowa in 1949 and Lester was touring with Jazz at the Philharmonic. Norman Grantz was the producer of that. They met at the Watkin Hotel, Lester stayed at the hotel and Billy was playing there at the time. He came down and sat in and they talked. Billy also saw him in Chicago in the early 50’s.

Chris Anderson  Was a blind pianist was a great influence and mentor to Billy. Billy says he was a genius. They would get together at each others homes with him and Bill Lee and Ike Day and play often in Chicago. 1952-1957. Some of Chris Anderson recordings are”Love Walked In” on Heritage Jazz, “None but the Lonely Heart”, “Live at Bradley’s”, “Lover” on Capitol records 1957.

Tom Archia  Was very instrumental in helping him moving and getting established in Chicago. He was from Texas and grew up with Illinois Jacquet.

Teddy Wilson met him in Chicago he used to come hear Billy at a club called Easy Street, Bill lee was playing with Billy at the time (Spike Lee’s father).

Charlie Parker sat in with him in a jazz club in Chicago known as the Bee Hive

Ahmad Jamal met him in Chicago- very good friends. Listen to each other.

Phineaus Newborn they were friends, Phineaus  visited Billy’s home in Chicago. Billy met him while Phineaus was in Chicago. Billy was greatly influenced Phineaus.

Oscar Denard Pianist was with Lionel Hampton and had been to his house in Chicago.

Ike Day  Best drummer Billy ever heard. Ike was the top Drummer in Chicago when he moved there.

Blue Michel Billy heard him when he was with Horace Silvers band.

Sammy Davis Jr. Billy Played “What Kind of Fool Am I”  when Sammy Davis Jr. sat in at  the Playboy Club with Billy

Dionne Warwick Billy was the pianist in a big band in 62-63 at the Red Saunders Theater in Chicago.

Gladys Knight  Billy played with her in the 60’s.

Dakota Staton Billy accompanied her at El Chapultepec in Denver.

Gloria Lynne  Billy first met Gloria Lynne while she was at Idyllwild Michigan at the Black Summer Resort. She became a star after that. He was up there at the time getting a cottage for his family. Wealthy blacks from Detroit,Cleveland and Chicago vacationed there. His parents used to go there before he was born.

Others include  Joe Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Durham, Tony Bennett, Sonny Rollins, George Morrow.

Billy’s influences have been Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Errol Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Phineaus Newborn and Chris Anderson.