I specialize in solo jazz-style guitar. Unless the audience is particularly interested in unaccompanied jazz guitar, in the style of traditional jazz artists such as Jimmy Smith, Barney Kessel, and Joe Pass, this style of music is mainly suitable as background music, for dinners, cocktail parties, art exhibitions, and receptions. In this format, I play standards such as well-known tunes Misty, Autumn Leaves, Take the A Train, Girl from Ipanema; mixed with lesser-known standards and songs by jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, and Charles Lloyd. I usually add a few latin-style tunes and a few popular songs and blues tunes. I sometimes sing a little myself, but if you need a real vocalist that requires an additional musician. I also play solo guitar versions of the typical wedding marches, by Mendelssohn and Wagner, and I have several alternatives to these typical selections.
Keep in mind that if you want music for dancing, or a vocalist, that requires a larger group, a trio as a minimum; or preferably a quartet. Several combinations are possible; for example an ensemble with vocals, guitar, bass and congas is suitable for background music but a bit more lively than solo guitar. I can provide a group that plays purely jazz, or we can perform as an R and B-oriented ensemble. As an R and B group, we play a unique mix of jazz and R and B, with touches of Latin music, New Orleans and go-go, Washington D.C.'s unique musical form. We can modify the music as required for specific occasions; we know many songs in addition to those listed on my song list.
If you look at the client feedback, you will see that it suggests a somewhat puzzling array of musical styles. Thus, most of the feedback reflects events for which I unaccompanied solo guitar; or as a small group playing a mix of jazz and R and B. In some cases we have emphasized caribbean music and reggae (feedback from Natasha J.), fusion and New Orleans-style music (Terrance G.; Julee L.), Christmas music (Taylor G.; Laura F.), latin and Cuban music (Amanda W.), and on one occasion even music of the far East (Janessa S.). We have a large repertoire; the songfest reflects only my solo guitar repertoire. As a larger group we can perform almost any tune, especially if requested in advance.
In addition to myself core members of our band are Tiffany Sharon (vocals), Kwame Amponsem (bass), Greg Reaves, Tony Njoku, and Mike Morris (percussion and drums). Additional musicians including trumpet players Spencer Strother and Donvonte McCoy can be added as needed. We have performed at innumerable venues in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore area, including leading jazz clubs such as HR57, Twins, Takoma Station, and Club 347, many hotels and restaurants, as well as receptions for the Mayor of Baltimore (see feedback from Charmeda B.) and the Governor of Maryland (see feedback from Janessa S.). Please note that the song list which accompanies my page includes only songs which I most often perform on solo (unaccompanied) jazz guitar (without singing). With a band, the song list depends on the personnel which are involved; thus, since this would vary depending on (for example) if we include a vocalist in the band, I didn't try to list all of the songs that we can perform. If you have particular song requests feel free to contact me to ask if we can perform those songs. Also, if you would like to come hear my play, I'm usually performing somewhere about once per week somewhere between Takoma Park and Bowie, Maryland.
If the client's specific requests (that is, for particular songs that we don't already know) are fairly minimal, we also very much enjoy playing for informal weddings, for example in someone's backyard, and we can do this for a price which is considerably less than the usual cost of a wedding band. Upcoming performances are not listed on this site, since it's hard to keep that up-dated, but I'm usually playing somewhere in the D.C. area about once per week and if you would like to hear me play live, I can send you a schedule of performances on request. I can also send a CD if preferred, and if there's time.
I am sponsored by Hagstrom Guitars, Alvdalen, Sweden and play exclusively original vintage Swedish-made Hagstrom Guitars.
Bill Freed (guitar, vocals),
Tiffany Smith (vocals),
Kwame Amponsem (bass),
Mike Morris (drums),
Greg Reaves (drums, keyboard, percussion),
Tony Njoku (congas),
Scott Strother (trumpet),
Donvonte McCoy (trumpet)