“Bill loves the piano, and he renews his love with every concert he gives. And guess what? The piano loves it. Bill can make any piano sound good. Hear Bill Risby, a seducer of the piano. Wouldn't you want a lover like that?"
Bill has played with many visiting jazz and popular artists such as Maria Schneider, Bob Mintzer, Wayne Bergeron, and Rob McConnell amongst many others.
His playing is featured in the films, "Peter Rabbit", "The Great Gatsby", "Australia", and "Ellipsis".
Phone number: +61 417 674 274
I love the piano, and have it to thank for much of what I have, and who I am now. I've spent most of my life playing music for CD recordings, films, commercial sessions, and live performances. I am grateful that I am still working as a full time musician, and am still learning every day.
Bill has released two solo piano CDs - one of original music, standards and folk songs, called "Blue Azure" (blue as you are), and another CD of improvised music, called 'One', which is essentially a one hour improvisation on the Australian hand-made Stuart & Sons piano.
Bill has recorded an acclaimed duo album with Steve Clisby ("The Voice" Australia runner up) called "Golden Ring". Golden RiI It was mixed in L.A. by Helik Hadar (Madeleine Peyroux, and Herbie Hancock - the Joni Letters). It’s a warm, soulful and highly intimate project in which Steve and Bill have melded pop, jazz and gospel and turned them inside out with adventurous harmonies and deep heart felt vocals.
Bill has recorded another highly acclaimed duo album with Louise Perryman called "The Painter and the Bird", an album of mostly standards and show tunes, and it is released through Universal Records in Asia.
2002 to Present
Bill Risby Trio
The Bill Risby Trio (BRT) is a collaboration between Gary Holgate (Bass), Hamish Stuart (Drums) and Bill on piano. They have played extensively and released an album called "Looking Up", available through the Ponca Jazz label in Norway, and also directly here by contacting Bill on this site.
1990 to 2002
Bill had a band in the 1990s called "The Storytellers", which culminated in a recording entitled 'Falling', featuring various members of the band from that decade, including Andrew Gander on drums, Dieter Kleemann on guitar (and compositions), Bill on bass, vibraphone and keyboards, and Victor Rounds and Phil Scorgie on bass on 2 tracks each. All the music was written by Bill and Dieter Kleemann. This CD can still be purchased by contacting Bill here.
After a fervent religious youth of tribulation and searching, I would now comfortably call myself an agnostic or an atheist.
After studying music at the NSW state Conservatorium of Music, I enrolled in a degree in theology only to have the truth ignored in exchange for a faith of a kind, but one which I wasn't willing to adhere to.
I've come to accept that kindness without reward is a much higher attribute than kindness for a reward, and is a principle which I try to live up to.
A bit about music
I generally think music speaks for itself, but I'd like to add a few small comments.
Music is many things to many people, and for some (such as myself) it is a need, and embodies a certain desperation - a yearning - which can't be fulfilled in any other way. For this reason music is special. It's a vessel, a conduit, a language, and a sea of emotion.
Music in its purest form comes directly out of a person or an instrument. It doesn't come out of speakers. It's the vibrations coming from the whole instrument and/or person.
Recording is a clever trick, and a trick that I love, but there is nothing like the real thing. For this reason I believe that we must go OUT and experience music where there are instruments in close proximity, and no microphones in sight.
Of course large loud amplified concerts are wonderful experiences for many other reasons but the two are different experiences and shouldn't be confused.
"Looking Up" review:
Sydney Morning Herald, October 2005
"Few listeners will not succumb to the spell cast by the fragile beauty of Bill Risby's 'Seek And You Will Find'. Risby weights each note with the assurance of an expert concert pianist performing a Satie Gymnopedie, yet loads them with such a tangible sense of vulnerability that the emotional power stops you dead.
We hear too little of Risby in such contexts. it was worth the 11 year wait since his lovely debut, STORIES, for this one, which, after that solo opening, is a collaboration with bassist Gary Holgate and drummer Hamish Stuart.
The gentle tentative beginning to 'Looking Up' heralds a slow motion, building intensity over the next 10 minutes into something like a full blown spiritual. The upward energy slant continues with the abrupt drum punctuations and racing bass riff of 'Let Me Off!!' A rather folorn ballad called 'Lost' flutters into freer territory in mid-stream. Risby leaves us with the Celtic melancholy of 'I'll Be Seeing You'.
If nothing quite rises to the heights of the first piece, this is still one fine album."
John Shand (SMH, Oct 8-9 2005)
"Stories" CD, 1994 - debut album
"It's been a year of impressive debuts for young pianists, what with strong discs from Cyrus Chestnut, Bill Charlap, and the excellent import discs from Jacky Terrasson. Add to this list the new disc from Australian Bill Risby"
"Self-produced and featuring eight original compositions among ten cuts, "Stories" has a lot to recommend it.
With the title "When Photogen Met Nycteris", one might not know what to expect. Instead of a botany lesson, what we hear is a soft samba rhythm and spacious piano lines. Risby is not an acrobatic pianist - his lines are long and tend to build to slow resolves. The rhythm section is totally supportive and not intrusive. Bassist Craig Scott has a softer tone and less aggressive drive than other players, more like Charlie Haden. Drummer Simon Barker also does not overplay; instead he acts as both a cushion beneath the piano and as a springboard for the improvisations. His cymbal work on "Take Notes" is impressive with his subtle prodding adds tension to the modal musings of "Lilith". Ornette Coleman's "Turnaround" has a bluesy, after-hours feel along with bouncy walking bass lines. Risby builds the tension to moving his piano lines away from, then back to, the melody. "The Strong One" features alto saxophonist Paul Mason and is a lovely ballad, reminiscent of the work Jan Gabarek did with Keith Jarrett but in a much more formal setting. A solo reading of "The Way You Look Tonight" closes the program. Risby does a stately reading of the melody, as if he was caressing the words while sitting alone in his study. The other solo track, "Nikki", moves gently from a contemplative mood into a long, gospel section in which he sets the mood with rumbling bass lines and dancing melody lines.
This music has a sensuous feel, insinuating its way into your mind. Risby will not immediately overwhelm the listener with his technical facility but one will be pleased by his unerring sense of melody. Nothing is rushed in these songs; melodies are built carefully and soloists have plenty of room to make coherent statements. Yet the disc does not feel long because the pianist draws the listener into the music, piques one's curiosity as to where the music will go. On subsequent listenings, one picks up the shadings of the notes and how well Risby enunciates his lines. He has come a long way in developing his own voice and Bill Risby's "Stories" are quite entrancing. Recommended"
Richard B Kamins, Cadence Magazine (USA), March 1995
"Phantom of the Piano" Who is Bill Risby? The phantom of the Sydney jazz scene would be a fair response." Having recently released an enchanting debut album entitled "Stories", Risby finally appeared in the flesh to play two early evening sets at The Basement as a launch of this CD. With him were drummer Simon Barker and bassist John Aue, standing in for Craig Scott. Together they proved that the triumph was no fluke."
"Some variation to the piano trio format was introduced via the use of the melodica for one latin-flavoured piece. Risby's supple playing and dynamic nuances made this "toy" instrument infinitely more subtle than any imitative synthesizer"
"Risby is blessed with beautiful touch on the keyboard, no doubt helped by the fact that he has been playing since the age of 3. To the technique and touch is added a glorious sense of shape and colour, and a musical personality that is exuberant, warm, self effacing and impassioned."
John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, November 1994 (Live Review - "Stories CD launch")
"Entranced by the music, as composed and played by Bill Risby it was none the less gratifying to have a very personal opinion endorsed by Mike Nock. Nock is also a pianist, composer and influence, nonpareil. His judgement would be independent of the fact that Risby studied with him at the Sydney Conservatorium. Nock says "with this CD, Australia take note - another brilliant young pianist/composer has emerged."
"In an age when many musicians seem intent on pulping the aural capabilities and the senses of their audiences, it is more than passing pleasant to be able to listen, be able to hear, without feeling that sensibilities are threatened. Risby relies on musicality, on logical, thoughtful progression, for appeal. There are some "classical" ploys, such as rolling riffs and repetitions, but never to excess. Risby's gift would make a thoughtful offering to anyone interested in jazz in one of its most delightful representations, in piano, in composition, in blissful enjoyment."
Michael Foster, Canberra Times (Excerpt)
"Risby can mount a sparkling flood of ideas which activates his superb rhythm team, but the overall feeling is meditative and unashamedly pretty. Risby has a very clean technique and he has some intriguing and highly pleasing things to say with it."
Gail Brennan, The Sydney Morning Herald
"In trio format, Risby has produced some of the most compelling work, beautiful piano solos, at times romantic and dramatic, and solid arrangements which bring the music in 'Stories' alive."
Jill Morris, Australian Jazz Action Society.
Let's work together.
© Copyright William Risby