Bill Ortiz

Bill Ortiz

 San Francisco, California, USA

His performing and recording credits include work with such diverse and dynamic artists as: Santana, Destiny's Child, Tito Puente and Tony Toni Tone.


Born in San Francisco, California, Ortiz took up the trumpet at age 10. His experiences in school included his being first chair trumpet in the San Francisco All-City Band. By his mid-teens, he was playing at local dances and clubs with a number of R&B and jazz groups, giving him an early and varied start to his professional career. During his college years, Bill began exploring electronic music and gained his first experience in Latin music.

Shortly after school, he joined the highly acclaimed Orchesta Batachanga, an afro-cuban group under the direction of percussionist/musicologist John Santos. After Batachanga, there followed important tenures with Pete Escovedo, John Santos' Machete Ensemble, as well as stints with other leading latin bands in the bay area, including performances with cuban bass innovator Israel "Cachao" Lopez.

During these formative years, Bill began to establish himself as a leading figure on the San Francisco scene, known for his strong lead playing as well as being a creative soloist. This period included a stay with Babatunde Lea and his latin jazz band, and a brief stint with Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, including performances at the Monterey and Concord Jazz Festivals. Also around this period, Bill performed numerous times with Tito Puente on his west coast dates as well as recording with Tito on 4 recordings.

In 1987, Bill began a long and artistically rewarding tenure with Peter Apfelbaum and "The Hieroglyphics Ensemble" which included such members as Blue Note recording artist Will Bernard, Jai Uttal and future Santana band mate trombonist Jeff Cressman. During this period, the band recorded 2 releases for Antilles/Polygram Records and won Downbeats Critics Poll Award for "Big Band Deserving Wider Recognition." In addition, the Hieroglyphics Ensemble backed up the legendary jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, recording a CD with him on A&M as well as performing with him for 5 years in festivals and club appearances.

Toward the end of his tenure with Afelbaum, Bill began a stint with the R&B/ hip hop group Tony Toni Tone, as touring band member and featured soloist. Ortiz performed on 5 releases of this multi-platinium selling group, as well as touring the US, Canada and Europe. In addition to their own tours, Tony Toni Tone also joined Janet Jackson on her "Alive" tour in 1993, as well as numerous TV appearances. This led to recordings with En Vogue, Souls of Mischief, Sheila E, TLC and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

Following his stay with Tony Toni Tone, Bill toured and recorded the legendary Boz Scaggs, and began a long and fruitful association with highly acclaimed jazz vocalist Lavay Smith (who Bill still works with), recording 2 CDs and touring the US and Europe.

In 1999, Bill recorded on the Carlos Santana's smash single "Smooth", joining his touring band in 2000. His performances as band member and featured soloist have taken him around the world from Europe to Japan and China, South and Central America to Australia and South East Asia. Some recent highlights with the Santana band include a tour of Japan with music giants Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, both joining the Santana band on the "Emissaries Of Peace" tour in 2005. In 2004 and 2006, Bill performed with Hancock and Shorter as well as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Taj Mahal, Eagle Eye Cherry and Angelique Kidjo at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The Santana Band has also made many tv appearances with Anthony Hamilton, Michelle Branch and many other artists.

While keeping busy as a sideman, Bill has also worked as a leader as well, including being featured soloist at the North Beach Jazz Festival for the "75th Annual Tribute to Miles Davis." Along with Ortiz, performers included former Miles sideman Benny Maupin and jazz vibist Bobby Hutcherson. Bill also recently presented a "New Perspectives Of The Music Of James Brown" performance at "The Jazz School" in Berkeley, California.

Bill also spends a good amount of his time and energy with his involvement in music education, both as a clinician and private instructor. He enjoys mentoring younger musicians and spreading the experiences and diversity of his musical background. It is this diverseness that Ortiz tries to bring to his own playing and recordings.

"I consider myself a jazz musician," he states "but my musical upbringing contains a wide veriety of musical styles, including latin, african, R&B/soul and blues. What I am trying to do with my musical voice is refect all of those elements of who I am as a musician and a person. It basically all African-influenced music and branches of the same musical tree. I'm not a purist at all-I try to bring all these elements of who I am musically into one voice."


Dallas Austin, Patty Austin, Michelle Branch, Cachao, Tevin Cambell, Don Cherry, Eagle Eye Cherry, Ravi Coltrane, Chick Corea, DJ Quik, The Dramatics, En Vouge, Sheila E, Buddy Buy, Herbie Hancock, Anthony Hamilton, Lauren Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, James Ingram, Irakere, Quincy Jones, Angelique Kidjo, Beyonce' Knowles, John McLaughlin, Andy Narell, Flora Purim And Airto, Todd Rundgren, Arturo Sandoval, Boz Scaggs, Wayne Shorter, Souls Of Mischief, The Spinners, TLC, Cecil Taylor, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Mary Wilson and Steve Winwood.

Presently, Bill is recording and touring with Carlos Santana, including his performances on the Grammy Award winning singles SMOOTH and THE GAME OF LOVE. In addition, he has been very active as a studio musician in Hip-Hop, R&B and jazz.