Bill DeArango (1921-2005) played jazz guitar. Bill DeArango collaborated with the greatest jazz musicians of the 1940's such as Ben Webster, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Eddie Davis, Red Norvo, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Ventura, and Coleman Hawkins. This website is a tribute to Bill DeArango and the spirit which he instilled in the successive generations of musicians, artists and admirers who were fortunate enough to know and be inspired by him. The goal of this website is to provide a living testimony to the vast and unique contributions of Bill DeArango, a remarkably gifted musician by virtue of both the music he created as well as the manner in which he challenged and motivated others to fulfill their greatest potential.

The official Bill DeArango website contains music clips (mp3), recordings, discography, photos, interviews, news articles, pictures, and a message board (forum.) I encourage everyone to explore these resources fully. Also, if you knew Bill, studied with him, played or recorded with him and have a particular memory that you would like to share, please post it to the forum. It is my hope that this site will continue to evolve dynamically -allowing anyone who chooses to contribute to become an equal partner in a living document.

Bill was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1920. He gained national prominence after bursting onto New York’s 52nd Street jazz scene in 1944. There he found an immediate home with the musicians taking jazz in bold new directions. A seminal innovator on the guitar, he was known for his lightning-fast runs and for playing cascades of single notes that matched the speed and complexity of the saxophonists and pianists after whom he modeled his playing.He was one of the few guitarists who were part of the revolutionary bebop movement led by saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.In 1946, Esquire magazine selected Bill for its ''All-American Jazz Band" and praised his ''fleet, fevered single-string solo work."He was in steady demand in nightclubs and recording studios in the mid-1940s and was a member of saxophonist Ben Webster's group from 1945 to 1947.
He led his own group as well, recording with an array of jazz stars.As he was gaining prominence as one of the premier guitarists of the bebop era, he grew irritated with increasing commercial pressures in music and abruptly left New York in 1948, returning to his native Cleveland.

In 1954, Bill returned to New York to record an LP of jazz standards for EmArcy. The musicians on the date included Teddy Kotick on bass, Art Mardigan on drums, and Johnny Williams on piano - truly one of the great rhythm sections of all time. Bill’s playing showed his ongoing commitment to the evolution of his craft. Refusing to rely on cliches or rest on past achievements, his approach was fresh, articulate and contemporary. Bill continued to perform in Cleveland embarking on a long time collaboration with pianist Bill Dinasco (also known for his work with Jim Hall). In the early’70s, Bill worked with saxophonist Ernie Krivda, and drummer Skip Hadden in concert performances opening for touring national jazz acts at the legendary Smiling Dog Saloon. Bill was driven to innovate. He wanted his sound to be a reflection of the contemporary world around him. He embraced technology using powerful amplifiers and solid body guitars that were better suited to playing at loud volumes. Influenced by Jimi Hendrix and the electronic explorations of Miles Davis, he attached a wah-wah pedal to his guitar to further extend his range of expression. Bill’s incredible virtuosity, cutting edge style and telepathic interplay with Ernie Krivda and Skip Hadden couldn’t help but draw the attention of all who saw and heard them. Many artists who performed there at the time still remember it well.

In addition to performing, Bill opened DeArango Music, a retail music store and teaching/rehearsal studio. The store quickly became the center of Cleveland’s music scene. Bill was inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the young musicians who gathered at the store to try out the latest music gear or came for lessons and rehearsals. He took particular joy in helping aspiring players individually and collectively raise their musical awareness. At times, this was accomplished by bringing students into his office and playing recordings of Lester Young or Duke Ellington. Other times, it was by plugging his guitar and wah-wah pedal into double-stacked Marshall amplifiers and blowing through Cherokee or Rhythm Changes at blistering speed with the volume cranked loud enough to set everything in the store reverberating. (Bill once remarked that this was his idea of “serious physical therapy.”) Either way, the end result was a student left shaking his head in disbelief with a stirring motivation to get on with the lessons still left to be learned. Bill seemed to have an uncanny ability to sense each individuals’ unique strength and, in his own way, provide the guidance and support required to further develop it. This uncommon gift spawned generations of musicians, crossing multiple instrument categories and musical genres, who went on to have successful careers as performers on the international scene. Many additionally went on to be teachers and professors in leading musical conservatories and universities.

Throughout the eighties and nineties, Bill continued to perform and record with the musicians he met and mentored in Cleveland, Boston and New York. His final recording was with Joe Lovano for Gunther Schuller’s GM label in 1993. We lost Bill to Alzheimer’s disease on December 26, 2005. For the last years of his life, he was cared for at the A.M. McGregor Home in East Cleveland. All of us who remember Bill will always be grateful to their superb staff for their caring support and the kindness they showed him.

This site contains music from the following Bill DeArango album's: Sara Vaughn, Slam Stewart Quintet, Ike Quebec - Tenor Sax, Eddie Davis & Quintet, Bill De Arango Sextet, Ben Webster Quintet, Sara Vaughan, The Crazy Rhythms, Dizzy Gilespie and his Orchestra, The Big Three, Charlie Ventura and His Sextet, Charlie Ventura's Carnegie Hall Concert, Terry Gibbs Septet, DeArango.

Other sources of information about Bill Dearango can be found at: (Classic Jazz Guitar)