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Bill Harrison

Born: New York City, 1956
Connection to Illinois: Harrison has lived in Chicago for over 40 years. He is a graduate of DePaul University. worked extensively in the Chicago theater, both in the pit and onstage as a musician and actor. Credits include the long running Always...Patsy Cline, Wicked, The Lion King, Billy Elliott, Showboat, Sunset Boulevard, Singin' In The Rain, Scrooge, Peter Pan, Sweet Charity, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, West Side Story, Camelot, White Christmas and the world premieres of The Visit, Turn of the Century and Bounce at Goodman Theatre. His teaching experience includes private lessons and coaching jazz ensembles at the American Conservatory of Music and at Chicago State University.

Biography: Bill Harrison worked as a professional bass player in Chicago for four decades. He performed with jazz greats Clark Terry, James Moody, Bunky Green, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Daley, and Woody Herman's Thundering Herd. Bill's first book, the memoir Making the Low Notes is available from Open Books Press. His other work is published in After Hours, Allium, Counseling Today, The Intermezzo, Sandpiper, Sledgehammer, Under the Gum Tree, and elsewhere. Bill has a private psychotherapy practice in Chicago, where he lives with his poet/therapist wife and a naughty Bengal named Jazzy.


Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Making the Low Notes: A Life in Music
ISBN: 1956897283 OCLC: 1361680726

Open Books Press 2023

A bass player navigates his way through the muddy waters of Chicago’s music sceneBill Harrison chronicles his journey from bumbling music student to successful professional bass player in late twentieth-century Chicago. Told with a mixture of wry humor and hard-won insight, Making the Low Notes gives readers an insider’s peek into the prosaic life of a working musician. Harrison describes periods of camaraderie, disappointment, pain, and joy as he toils in venues as divergent as bowling alleys, jazz clubs, recording studios, hotels, orchestra pits, and concert halls. He shares the stage with jazz greats, including Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Clark Terry, Bunky Green, and Max Roach. Along the way, the bassist struggles to reconcile the dissonance between his desire to be heard and his impulse to hide silently in the shadows.