Bill DeArango

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Bill De Arango, Terry Gibbs und Harry Biss, "Three Deuces", New York City, June 1947, photo: William P. Gottlieb

Bill DeArango (September 20, 1921, Cleveland, Ohio - December 26, 2005, Cleveland) was an American jazz guitarist. Jason Ankeny of Allmusic called him "Arguably the most innovative and technically accomplished guitarist to emerge during the bebop era".[1]

DeArango was an autodidact, and played in Dixieland jazz bands while attending Ohio State University. He served in the Army from 1942–44, then moved to New York City, where he played with Don Byas, Ben Webster, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Slam Stewart, Ike Quebec, Ray Nance, and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. He recorded under his own name for the first time in 1945, and co-led a band with Terry Gibbs shortly thereafter.

DeArango left New York to return to Cleveland in 1947, where he disappeared from the music world. He did an album with pianist John Williams in 1954 for EmArcy, but remained strictly a local musician for more than 20 years, in addition to running a record store. Late in the 1960s he managed the rock band Henry Tree, and held a regular gig in the 1970s at the Smiling Dog Saloon in Cleveland with Ernie Krivda and Skip Hadden. In 1978 he recorded with Barry Altschul, and with Kenny Werner in 1981; he won significant renown for his 1993 collaboration with Joe Lovano, Anything Went.

After the release of this record, DeArango played locally but had primarily gone into retirement. He entered a nursing home in 1999 and suffered dementia until his death seven years later, although he continued performing locally until late 2001. The music he produced during this period can be described as "heavy space funk" with musicians Mike Blazy (drums); Paul Van Curen (guitar); Jon(athan) Horwitz (guitar/bass). During an interview on National Public Radio on September 13, 1997, Dearango described this rhythm section: "Sometimes when we're playing, you can get to a place where it's like what Heaven may be...letting each note have its moment..."


With Dizzy Gillespie