Willie Murillo

Willie Murillo is proud to be a product of the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association public school system. His journey began as the only student in SCSBOA history to be chosen as principle trumpet in both the Honor Jazz Band and Honor Orchestra all four years of his high school career. Since then, Murillo, a Grammy Award winner, has made his mark as one of the top studio trumpeters, music educators, commercial writers, and producers in the world.

Murillo can be heard on countless albums, motion picture soundtracks, and television recordings. He has performed and/or recorded with artists like Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilara, Josh Groban, Natalie Cole, Jamie Cullum, Maynard Fergueson, Tony Bennett and many more.

Since graduating high school, Murillo has participated in music education at over 400 schools, often volunteering his time and performing pro bono. As a highly sought after educator, clinician, and guest artist, he has also participated in jazz festivals around the world. Murillo’s global renown as a leading music educator has also opened doors for him to teach in Europe, Asia, and all over North America.

In addition, Murillo has harnessed his entrepreneurial skills to impact jazz education by launching Varsity Publishing, a music publishing company that has successfully produced jazz curriculum and repertoire for junior high and high school jazz ensembles.

Murillo is proud to have written and produced music for numerous commercially successful avenues, such as Nip Tuck, Disney, Robin McKelle (the current no. 1 selling jazz artist in Europe), Grammy Award Winner The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Grammy Award Winner Aimee Mann, Tim Timmons, and the Seattle Symphony. He has also written and produced for numerous national advertising campaigns.

One thought on “Willie Murillo

  1. Being a musician, I am, of cruose, biased but the good news is that I do believe jazz can be saved. The bad news is, I doubt that it will. The art of melodic improvisation flourished when it was part of the popular music of the ’20 s through the big band era. Kids who were buying records could relate to it physically through dancing. In order to awaken the public’s atrophied ears to our beloved art form, that connection would have to be reestablished. A golden opportunity was missed during the GAP commercial inspired mini swing craze of the mid to late ’90 s. It got young people swing dancing. The craze ended because, not suprisingly, people became bored with the music even though the players wore funny hats and twirled their instruments and made every effort to be visually entertaining. Why? Maybe we should be a little scientific about this. Not rocket science, mind you, because we are talking about entertainment here. Back in the ’70 s, when dance clubs still hired bands (before DJs took over completely) I had an epiphany of sorts while taking a guitar solo with my funk band. The dance floor was full but I realized that my solo could be good, bad, or mediocre and it really would not make much of a difference to the dancers. That was because they were dancing to the symmetrical back beats on 2 and 4 of the measure. As Dick Clark’s studio audiences on American Band Stand repeatedly informed us it is a good beat and it is easy to dance to (sic). I once saw a film of the Benny Goodman band where the camera was looking down on a crowded dance floor from a balcony. As Goodman built his clarinet solo to a climax, you could see the dancers jumping higher into the air. They were driven by Gene Krupa’s quarter notes on the bass drum and loud, propulsive, asymmetrical hits on the snare, but people were essentially dancing to the improvised melody. The drumming of Joe Jones with the Basie band is another example of asymmetrical back beats. Unfortunately, none of the swing acts that achieved notoriety during the ’90 s (Big, Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer et al ) picked up on this. The shuffle got old real fast. Strong back beats propel the dancers but a steady 2 and 4 disengages them from the melody. Forget jazz and history and zoot suits for a minute and break it down to the sonic essentials of what makes people dance and there may be a glimmer of hope for a fusion with melodic improvisation. Whether people are dancing to Rihanna or Basie, we know that they like it around 120 beats per minute. What they are dancing to is the quarter note pulse. You can easily take any contemporary dance track, strip away everything but the bass drum, and superimpose Satin Doll. The only difference is that the rhythm of the modern (unimprovised) melodic content is usually defined with straight eighths and sixteenth notes instead of swing eighths. At this point, you may ask who cares? Well, we do, obviously and the marketing and promotional geniuses have not been able to prevent America’s only original art form from going down the tubes. Could it be that the music itself needs to be dealt with? It didn’t mean a thing without that swing because that was the feeling that connected the dancer and the melodic improvisor. New music can be created with that feeling that connects with today’s dancers but it won’t swing for long unless the crutch of the symmetrical back beat is avoided.