Bill Barrett

Biography

Los Angeles harmonica player Bill Barrett spans genres from blues to classical to manouche, captivating audiences and colleagues alike with a dexterity on diatonic and chromatic harp that can shift from didactic to dissonant. He has performed for more than three decades with sonic luminaries such as Nels Cline, Marc Ford and the Neptune Blues Club, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Kronos Quartet, acclaimed world music ensemble Hazmat Modine, Natalie Merchant, Anthony Wilson, Eugene Chadbourne and Vinny Golia. Barrett's stage presence blends offbeat humor with interdimensional philosophy, traits that conjoin him with top-shelf musicians who adopt fanciful appellations such as The Claremont Voodoo Society, The Bastards of Belleville, Gutpuppet, Dirty Baby and The Club Foot Orchestra. He is a composer and a commanding singer whose harmonies float just above melodies to create thick, rich textures. Since his first LP in 1986, Barrett has compiled 22 albums as a band leader and increasingly is in demand as a session player. He has been featured on over 200 CDs and frequently appears on film and television soundtracks. Though often exploring less-mainstream musical styles, Barrett is equally comfortable playing rock, country and jazz, and at times even serves audiences unexpected treats of harmonetta, sheng and trump. A teacher of harmonica since 1984, he also instructs a growing number of students in jazz improvisation, theory and vocal harmony. Barrett has toured Europe, North America and the fabled Parts Unknown, earning fans and a reputation in over 30 foreign countries.