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Bill Wells

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Jazz bassist, pianist, and composer Bill Wells came up through the Scottish jazz scene of the late '80s and early '90s, though his varied musical collaborations have led him into numerous genres well outside of jazz. A native of Falkirk, Scotland, he gained recognition leading his eclectic big band the Bill Wells Octet in the mid-'90s, taking as much influence from Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach as from jazz artists like Count Basie and Carla Bley. Wells has been quoted as identifying more with the rock and indie scenes than with jazz, and his experimentations have led to projects with artists like Belle and Sebastian's Isobel Campbell, Jens Lekman, Kevin Ayers, and Arab Strap singer Aiden Moffat, with whom he recorded 2011's Everything's Getting Older, winner of the inaugural Scottish Album of the Year Award. In 2007, Wells formed the amusingly named National Jazz Trio of Scotland, an eclectic ensemble with a rotating cast that is rarely a trio and pushes the limits of what could be considered jazz. His résumé also includes the rock group Phantom Engineer, which he formed with members of BMX Bandits and Telstar Ponies as well as a 2009 collaboration with Japanese experimental group Maher Shalal Hash Baz. A commission from the arts organization Creative Scotland led to his 2015 Nursery Rhymes project, which he and Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake recorded in New York City. The project included contributions from a large cast of guest artists like Syd Straw, Yo La Tengo, Karen Mantler, Bridget St. John, and Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki and Greg Saunier. ~ Timothy Monger

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Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s