|Born||San Francisco, CA|
|Associated acts||American Music Club|
Bill Ortiz is a San Francisco-based trumpet player, having started playing at the age of 10.
Shortly after college, he joined the highly acclaimed Orchestra Batachanga, an afro-cuban group under the direction of percussionist/musicologist John Santos. After Batachanga, there followed important tenures with Pete Escovedo, John Santos' Machete Ensemble, as well as stints with other leading latin bands in the bay area, including performances with cuban bass innovator Israel "Cachao" Lopez.
This period included a stay with Babatunde Lea and his latin jazz band, and a brief stint with Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, including performances at the Monterey and Concord Jazz Festivals. Also around this period, Bill performed numerous times with Tito Puente on his west coast dates as well as recording with Tito on four recordings.
In 1987, Bill began a long and artistically rewarding tenure with Peter Apfelbaum and "The Hieroglyphics Ensemble" which included such members as Blue Note recording artist Will Bernard, Jai Uttal and future Santana band mate trombonist Jeff Cressman. During this period, the band recorded 2 releases for Antilles/Polygram Records and won Downbeats Critics Poll Award for "Big Band Deserving Wider Recognition." In addition, the Hieroglyphics Ensemble backed up the legendary jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, recording a CD with him on A&M as well as performing with him for 5 years in festivals and club appearances.
Toward the end of his tenure with Afelbaum, Bill began a stint with the R&B / hip hop group Tony Toni Toné, as touring band member and featured soloist. Ortiz performed on 5 releases of this multi-platinium selling group, as well as touring the US, Canada and Europe. In addition to their own tours, Tony Toni Toné also joined Janet Jackson on her "Alive" tour in 1993, as well as numerous TV appearances. This led to recordings with En Vogue, Souls of Mischief, Sheila E, TLC and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.
Following his stay with Tony Toni Toné, Bill toured and recorded with the legendary Boz Scaggs, and began a long and fruitful association with highly acclaimed jazz vocalist Lavay Smith (whom Bill still works with), recording 2 CDs and touring the US and Europe.
In 1999, Bill recorded on the Carlos Santana's smash single "Smooth", joining his touring band in 2000. His performances as band member and featured soloist have taken him around the world from Europe to Japan and China, South and Central America to Australia and South East Asia. Some recent highlights with the Santana band include a tour of Japan with music giants Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, both joining the Santana band on the "Emissaries Of Peace" tour in 2005. In 2004 and 2006, Bill performed with Hancock and Shorter as well as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Taj Mahal, Eagle Eye Cherry and Angelique Kidjo at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. The Santana Band has also made many tv appearances with Anthony Hamilton, Michelle Branch and many other artists. Ortiz's tenure with Santana ended in 2016.
While keeping busy as a sideman, Bill has also worked as a leader as well, including being featured soloist at the North Beach Jazz Festival for the "75th Annual Tribute to Miles Davis." Along with Ortiz, performers included former Miles sideman Benny Maupin and jazz vibist Bobby Hutcherson. Bill also recently presented a "New Perspectives Of The Music Of James Brown" performance at "The Jazz School" in Berkeley, California.
Bill also spends a good amount of his time and energy with his involvement in music education, both as a clinician and private instructor. He enjoys mentoring younger musicians and spreading the experiences and diversity of his musical background. It is this diverseness that Ortiz tries to bring to his own playing and recordings.
"I consider myself a jazz musician," he states, "but my musical upbringing contains a wide variety of musical styles, including latin, African, R&B/soul and blues. What I am trying to do with my musical voice is reflect all of those elements of who I am as a musician and a person. It basically all African-influenced music and branches of the same musical tree. I'm not a purist at all-I try to bring all these elements of who I am musically into one voice."