Eight years after his brother’s untimely death, guitarist and composer Bill Horvitz pays homage to Philip with his latest release, The Long Walk, set for national release, April 2. Special tribute performances are being planned for the San Francisco Bay Area (March) as well as New York (June).
The Long Walk is a suite of eight pieces composed by Bill Horvitz for the 17-piece Bill Horvitz Expanded Band as a tribute to his youngest brother Philip Horvitz, who passed away suddenly of a heart failure in 2005 at the age of 44. Philip was an inspired writer, director, actor, dancer, and choreographer, who worked primarily in San Francisco and New York. The music includes a wide range of styles drawing on jazz, funk, folk, and new music. The compositions are tightly composed and arranged and contain sections of conducted improvisation. Each piece relates in some way to a part of Philip’s life.
After Philip died, Horvitz wanted to compose music as a tribute to him, and about a year after his death, began hearing the beginnings of new compositions that felt in different ways related to Philip’s life. As Horvitz worked tirelessly on his compositions, the music evolved and he began adding instruments. The resulting pieces are a collection of jazz, rock, folk, classical, and funk-influenced works that have come out of the enormous range of emotions Horvitz has felt since his brother’s untimely death.
“I did not compose this music with literal ideas about Philip in mind, but found elements that related to him as each piece grew,” Horvitz said in a news release. For example, “Child Star” with all the appropriate fanfares, refers to a time very early in Philip’s life when he often performed for his family, “Philip would create theatrical pieces, command performances based on Broadway musicals, for which he printed and sold tickets. He would dance in the living room and lip sync or sing along with recordings, all highly choreographed and rehearsed to a tee.”
Bill Horvitz has spent nearly 40 years combining composition and improvisation and expanding the voice of the guitar in both large and small ensembles. Between 1978 and 1988, he lived and worked in New York City, where he worked with a long list of composers and musicians. Horvitz’ lengthy and varied experience in the realms of jazz, rock, classical, folk, and new music have resulted in an entirely original compositional voice-a voice that is forceful and innovative, yet always intelligently accessible. As a guitarist, Horvitz stretches the boundaries of guitar music and points it in new and exciting directions. He fuses traditional and extended techniques in a most inventive way; his strikingly personal instrumental vision endows his music with an infinite array of tonal color.
In addition to leading and playing in The Bill Horvitz Expanded Band, since 2004, he has sung and played guitar, banjo, and ukulele with TONE BENT, a folk duo with his wife, composer, musician and singer Robin Eschner. Their first release, Say What You Will, has been described as “a roaring ride through the heartland of human experience.” They’re second release Angels In the Kitchen will be released in the spring of 2013. Horvitz also leads and composes for the instrumental trio, The Skerries, with bassist Scott Walton and drummer Tom Hayashi. He is a founding member of Take Jack, a nine-member vocal and instrumental band and has composed music for theater, film, dance, art installation, and spoken word.