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BILL CONNORS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Bill Connors picture
Bill Connors biography
Born 1949-09-24 in Los Angeles, USA

Bill Connors is known in fusion circles primarily for being the guitarist with RETURN TO FOREVER on their groundbreaking "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy" album in 1973. While that was his breakthrough into the jazz and fusion recording industry, he quit the band after the single album and tour, due to creative differences.

Since then, he has gone on to a successful solo career, as well as sitting in with other jazz giants, such as Stanley Clarke, Jan Garbarek and Paul Bley. In recent years, he has even performed again with the revived RETURN TO FOREVER.

See also: ECM page

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BILL CONNORS discography


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BILL CONNORS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 6 ratings
Theme To The Gaurdian
1975
4.00 | 5 ratings
Of Mist And Melting
1978
3.16 | 6 ratings
Swimming With A Hole In My Body
1980
4.00 | 6 ratings
Step It
1984
4.00 | 5 ratings
Double Up
1986
3.97 | 7 ratings
Assembler
1987
3.88 | 5 ratings
Return
2004

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BILL CONNORS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Return by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 5 ratings

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Return
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars -- First review for this album --

I'm continuing my expedition with less reviewed jazz/fusion artists in our database. American jazz guitarist BILL CONNORS (b. 1949) played on just one [ Chick Corea's ] RETURN TO FOREVER album, Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973), before going his own way and Al Di Meola becoming RTF's guitarist. Debuting in the legendary ECM label with Theme to the Gaurdian (1975), he made a bunch of albums in the seventies and the eighties, up to Assembler (1987). Then a long break. Aptly titled Return (2004) is still his latest album. It seems he never quite received the status he definitely would have deserved, and that's underlined by the fact he's still usually referred as a one-timer Return To Forever member.

This music is very much the kind of jazz/fusion that I wholeheartedly enjoy. The guitar is sonically comparable to PAT METHENY, my fave jazz artist, and other instruments of the quintet playing on this album are acoustic piano, bass, drums and percussion. The co-musicians are no familiar names to me, but I really enjoy their fresh and mellow sound. Bill O'Connell's elegant piano fits brilliantly together with the guitar and is very equal with it, too.

Pieces such as 'On the Edge' and 'Mind Over Matter' are very charming compositions full of life. The virtuosity never becomes self-indulgent, not even in the most complex and fast moments, there's always the fluent flow in music. In the beginning of 'Mr. Cool' Lincoln Goines on bass gets the spotlight. The slightly slower piece 'McMinor' brings valuable variety in the mood, although it could have been more openly romantic. After nine pieces composed by Bill Connors the album is closed by a mellow, beautiful version of John Coltrane's 'Brasilia'.

Return is a finely written, played and produced, post-bop oriented jazz album very easy to enjoy if you like e.g. Pat Metheny. There may not be absolute superb highlights that really move you emotionally, but no weak or boring moments either. A perfect balance between melodic mellowness and energetic vitality and virtuosity. In a word: excellent!

 Assembler by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.97 | 7 ratings

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Assembler
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

4 stars Jazz fusion guitar fans will recognize Connors as that blazingly explosive and technically precise legato guitarist in Return to Forever who left after one release to pursue a quieter acoustic guitar path. Connors has always been ranked in the upper echelons of fine fusion axe-men. Yet the guitar releases from Connors have come slowly and been severely underappreciated. After leaving Return to Forever, Connors released three excellent acoustic albums in the '70s, did some work with Stanley Clarke on Clarke's solo releases, and played with the Jan Garbarek Group. Connors then returned to releasing hard-hitting yet elegantly soulful electric fusion guitar albums in the '80s. They comprised a shorter, LP-length format, offering sonic snippets of Connors' electric visions. Comparisons can easily be made between this release's guitar stylings and those of Allan Holdsworth. This is not surprising, as Holdsworth has always sought that horn sound and flow of John Coltrane, and Connors, too, idolizes Coltrane. Convergent evolution perhaps? Connors has more of a rocking and visceral, edgy attack than Holdsworth. His legato phrasing is totally different, as well as his guitar voicings. Connors also has a lean funky, syncopated groove going on in his compositions; he demonstrates he is a guitarists' guitarist with evident passion for his instrument. Assembler marked the final electrified release of this fusion CD offering of the '80s. Assembler saw an initial 1987 release and then this 1994 re-release on the Evidence label.
 Theme To The Gaurdian by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.07 | 6 ratings

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Theme To The Gaurdian
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

4 stars The blazingly explosive and technically precise legato guitarist in Return to Forever left after one release with RTF to pursue a solo career and much quieter, acoustic guitar path. This is the first in a trio of acoustic guitar releases Bill Connors put out in the 1970s on the famous ECM label. Theme to the Gaurdian features some truly excellent acoustic guitar work, with some unique compositions and playing styles. Connors dubs one track as a sort of complex and exotic chordal progression-based structure of strummed rhythms and/or a tapestry of three-finger rolling. He solos over this landscape of dreamy, moody, surreal, and frenetic design. The effect is a ghostly dance of melancholy angst and passionate wailings.
 Step It by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.00 | 6 ratings

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Step It
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Bill Connors is probably best know for being the guitarist on my favourite RETURN TO FOREVER album "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy". He's got Tom Kennedy on bass, he'd later play with PLANET X, plus Dave Weckl on drums and he'd play on one of Chick Corea's projects. This was recorded at a studio in NYC in June and October of 1984. I really like the way the album kicks off, in fact the first three tracks would be my top three favourite songs on here. "Lydia" does have those outbursts that don't do a lot for me but man when they get into that steady groove I'm all in. The guitar solos over the bass and drums starting around 1 1/2 minutes but not for long as we get more outbursts along with that steady groove. Good start.

"A Pedal" opens with bass and drums as we get some atmosphere. I like this a lot. The bass and drumming really impress. The guitar starts to solo after 2 minutes then a calm with bass leading. Another guitar solo before 5 minutes and again the drumming is outstanding but then so is the bass and guitar. Players! "Step It" has some surprisingly heavy guitar as the drums and bass support. The guitar turn clean and man the drumming really blows me away on this one. There's some other good tunes like "Twinkle" with that long guitar solo or that high pitched tone to the guitar on "Titan" early on as the bass and drums crush it as usual. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I like this album and it's 1984!

 Swimming With A Hole In My Body by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 6 ratings

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Swimming With A Hole In My Body
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars File this one under "I didn't do my homework before purchasing". This is Bill Connors on acoustic guitar with no other musicians, so yes it's acoustic guitar all the time. Sure it's a pretty album but I'm not into records like this. If I was a guitarist I'm sure I'd be impressed with his finger picking but do I want to put this on for 40 plus minutes? No. This was released in 1980 and I actually like the photo he used for the album cover for some reason. The titles are all pretty much related to the title of the album which is cute. I have hit 100 words yay! Sorry I just don't have much to say about this one. I will have a lot more to say about his 1984 album "Step It" in a couple of weeks.
 Step It by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.00 | 6 ratings

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Step It
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Of the three Bill Connors solo albums I own, this one has his best compositions. Not content with just soloing, Connors here shows that he can also write a fine melody.

His sound here is somewhere between Pat Metheny (just about every fusion guitarist at that time had to try to imitate his sound) and Allan Holdsworth (Connors' fluidity and ability to solo around the most complex chord patterns always bring him to mind). Bassist Tom Kennedy (later known for his work with Planet X) simply astounds with some of his crisp bass lines. And drummer Dave Weckl is always workmanlike whenever I've heard him.

So this is another worthy fusion album from this Return To Forever alumnus.

 Double Up by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.00 | 5 ratings

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Double Up
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars The first impression I get when listening to this Bill Connors album is that he put together quite a talented trio. There's Bill himself, who's sound here is very reminiscent of Allan Holdsworth, bass player Tom Kennedy that many here know from Planet X, and drummer Kim Plainfield, now a Berklee School of Music professor.

The trio plays exceptional high energy fusion, mostly improvised around Connors' loose compositions. And it's the looseness, or lack of many composed sections that is this albums only real drawback. Because there is so much improvisation, and so little melodic sections, the album tends to have a sameness from start to finish. But at only 35 minutes, it's not much of a drawback, as the listener doesn't tire of the sounds, as the performances are so good.

 Assembler by CONNORS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.97 | 7 ratings

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Assembler
Bill Connors Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars This sure is a talented band. Not that I know much about bassist Tom Kennedy (I haven't heard any Planet X albums yet) and drummer Kim Plainfield, other than the other Bill Connors albums I own. But Connors and his band seem to be channelling Allan Holdsworth and his groups on this album. From the compositions, to the guitar tones and phrasing, just about everything sounds like it could be a Holdsworth album.

The Holdsworth references aside, this is a pretty good album. The bass and drum playing is sharp all the way through, and the music has lots of twists and turns, keeping it interesting throughout.

My only complaint is that all of the songs are mostly jamming. There seems to be very little of the band playing written parts, just solos over the complex chord progressions.

Still, 4 stars.

Thanks to Evolver for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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