Bill Harris began his musical training on the clarinet at the age of nine in the small Boston suburb of Topsfield, Massachusetts. He began to get serious about music around the age of 17, at which point he also began playing the saxophone and flute. Sure that this was the career he wanted to pursue, he enrolled at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, to receive a Bachelor of Music degree as a clarinet major. During his freshman year of college Bill heard the Woody Herman Band with its unusual saxophone section of three tenors and one baritone, and knew at that moment that sax was to be his instrument.
After a year off from school to concentrate on playing the sax, he completed his college studies and moved to New York City where he studied privately with Bob Mintzer of the Yellowjackets. Although playing mostly sax at this time, Bill soon found that there was a demand on the Off-Broadway scene for an R&B sax player who could also play classical clarinet and flute. He made his living in this field for many years performing on such shows as " A My Name is Alice" and "Personals" (two shows written by the creators of HBO's "Dream On" and the hit TV series "Friends"), "Three Guys Naked from the Waist Down" (starring Scott Bakula) and "Angry Housewives." At this time Bill was also active in the studios doing jingle work for such products as "Dawn Dishwashing Detergent," "Pampers," "Ivory Shampoo," "Stroh's Beer" and "Orangina."
Bill has more recently been pursuing a career as a soloist and as the other member of the "Harris Bros Horns" with his trumpet player brother, Don Harris. In 2005 Bill released his debut solo CD "THE EXTRA MILE" to rave reviews and is currently performing material from that CD with his latest project, the Bill Harris Quartet. This group is a traditional jazz quartet exploring a more contemporary concept. He is also very busy as a woodwind teacher, teaching both privately and at the University of Bridgeport.
Some of the many people Bill has performed or recorded with over the years include:
Vocalists: Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Norah Jones, Jakob Dylan, Chaka Khan, Joss Stone, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Dr. John, Celine Dion, Natalie Merchant, Bobby Caldwell, Brenda Russell, Jonathan Butler, Bruce Willis, Maxi Priest, Patty Smyth, Robbie Dupree, Isacc Hayes, Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), Jose Feliciano, Kevin Whalum, Sweetpea Atkinson, Henry Butler, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Vaneese Thomas, Mary Wilson, Percy Sledge, Steven Stills, Patti Labelle, Brian McKnight, Lilias White, Foxy Brown and Faith Evans. Vocal Groups: Allman Brothers Band, Average White Band, 98 Degrees, Take 6, Destiny's Child, The Temptations, Little Anthony & the Imperials, The Four Tops, The Spinners and The Dells.
Horn Players: Michael Brecker, Gerry Mulligan, Phil Woods, Lenny Pickett, Jay Beckenstein, Warren Hill, Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum, Richard Elliot, Everette Harp, Eric Marienthal, Jeff Kashiwa, Marion Meadows, Kim Waters, Euge Groove, Lou Marini, Bob Malach, Eddie Daniels, Chris Hunter, Craig Handy, Clarence Clemons, Eric Darius, Rick Braun, Marvin Stamm, Randy Brecker, Alan Rubin, Lew Soloff, and Tom Malone.
Keyboard Players: Chuck Leavell, Paul Shaffer, Richard Tee, David Sancious, Brian Culbertson, Bobby Lyle, Brian Simpson, Bob Baldwin, Garth Hudson, Chris Fischer, Tio Banks, Mike Logan and Henry Butler.
Drummers: Questlove, Jack Dejohnette, Omar Hakim, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Chris Parker, Sean McCurley, Joel Rosenblatt, Thierry Arpino, Rayford Griffin, Dave Hooper, JR Robinson and Gerardo Velez
Guitar & Bass Players: Tony Levin, Will Lee, Cornell Dupree, John Tropea, Hiram Bullock, B.B. King, Russ Freeman & the Rippingtons, Jeff Golub, Peter White, Paul Brown, Waymon Tisdale, Paul Jackson Jr., Norman Brown, Randy Jacobs, Julio Fernandez, Nile Rodgers, Dwight Sills, Chieli Minucci, Gil Parris, Steve Oliver, Mike Ripoll, Dave Anderson, Andre Berry, Nate Phillips, Mike Manson, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Larry Hoppen, John Hall, Artie Traum