Saxophonist Bill Saxton was born in Harlem and attended New York City public schools. His musical career spans from the late 1960’s to the present. After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in jazz performance, he went on to appear with and/or record with jazz giants Roy Haynes, Jackie McLean, Clark Terry, Nancy Wilson, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Count Basie Orchestra, Frank Foster, Carmen McRae, Mongo Santamaria, Roy Ayers, Barry Harris, Tito Puente, and Charles Tolliver, to name a few.
Bill toured with “The US Department of State” extensively throughout West Africa. He went on to play across Europe and into Japan and the Caribbean. He has been honored at the White House during Black Music Month, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem has featured his story, and the New York Library for the Performing Arts inducted him as a living Jazz Legend.
In Harlem he has established himself as a bandleader of world class musicians for over a decade, working alongside such notable performers as Bobby Watson, Hilton Ruiz, Bobby Forester and John Hicks.
Saxton is author of more than 80 musical compositions. Tunes such as “Beneath the Surface,” “One for Booker” and “Priorities” earned him a three star rating and critical acclaim in DownBeat, BeBop and Beyond magazines.
In 2006, Bill rejuvenated a historical jazz landmark when he opened the salon style venue “Bill’s Place” on 133rd Street in Harem. During prohibition, 133rd Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues (now recognized now as the original “Swing Street,” predating 52nd Street) was a regular after hours hangout for celebrities such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, Langston Hughes, and others. The then popular speakeasy at 148 West 133rd was a home base for the great Harlem Stride pianist, Willie “The Lion” Smith and often featured a young Billie Holiday. This space is now fully renovated and filled with the living spirit of jazz.
Bill’s Place continues the purist legacy of serious straight ahead jazz. Saxton lives his African American heritage and he and his venue represent New York City’s jazz community in one of its most vital and creative forms. More info can be found on Bill’s website, www.billsaxton.com.