Lawrence Elliott Willis
(born December 20, 1940 in New York, NY) is an American jazz pianist and composer. He has performed in a wide range of styles, including jazz fusion rock music rock Bop Bebop and Avant-Garde
After his first year studying music theory at the Manhattan School of Music he began performing regularly with Jackie McLean. After he graduated he made his first jazz recording, McLean's Right Now!, which featured two of Willis' compositions. His first recording of any type, however, was as a singer with the Music and Arts Chorale Ensemble, performing an opera by Aaron Copland under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. He decided to concentrate on jazz because of the difficulties African American musicians had in finding work in concert music. He is still recording and touring around the world. Truly a legend in the Jazz world.
Throughout his illustrious career he has performed with a wide range of musicians, including a stint of seven years as keyboardist for Blood, Sweat & Tears (beginning in 1972). His latest recording with Paul Murphy Excursions is a must hear for anyone interested in the high energy fusion principals of Bebop and Avant-Garde Jazz. This is Jazz at an impressive new level.
Some of the other musicians he has played and recorded with include Paul Murphy, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Hugh Masekela, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Stan Getz, Art Blakey, Art Taylor, Clifford Jordan, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Earl May, David "Fathead" Newman, Alphonse Mouzon and Carla Bley.