Bill Ramsay

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Bill Ramsay
Birth nameWilliam George Ramsay
Also known as"Bill" or "Rams"
Born (1929-01-12) January 12, 1929 (age 91)
Centralia, Washington, United States
Genresbig band jazz
Occupation(s)sideman, band leader, arranger
Instrumentssaxophone (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone)
Associated actsSeattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra
Count Basie

William George Ramsay ("Bill" or "Rams"; born January 12, 1929, in Centralia, Washington) is an American jazz saxophonist and band leader based in Seattle. In 1997, he was inducted into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame, the top of eight Golden Ear Award categories presented annually since 1990 by the Earshot Jazz Society of Seattle. Ramsay performs on all the primary saxophones – soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone – as well as clarinet (his boyhood instrument), and bass clarinet.

Performance affiliations[edit]


  • Ramsay has been a member of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra since its founding in 1995.[1]
  • He is the co-leader, with Milton Edwin Kleeb (born 1919), of a ten-piece jazz band based in Seattle – the Ramsay-Kleeb Big Band. The band plays the music of Miles Davis, Gil Evans, and Gerry Mulligan


Selected discography[edit]

As leader

  • Ramsay-Kleeb Band, "Red" Kelly's Heros, C.A.R.S. Productions (Los Angeles) (Ramsay arranges, plays alto & clarinet, co-directs) (1997) OCLC 41366927
Note: In the 1980s, Ramsay played tener sax with Thomas "Red" Kelly's quintet (jazz bass; 1927–2004),[2] Carl Fontana (trombone), David H. Stetler (drums; 1923–2002),[3] and Donald Wing Chan (piano; born 1941)[4]

As arranger

Trombone orchestration by Ramsay

As sideman

also on Ken Music (Japan) & Ken/Passport (Germany)


  • Bill Ramsay & the Hipshaker Big Band, Thaddeus, unpublished live recording at Tula's (2004)[5]


  • A Tribute to Count Basie, filmed at Kan-i Hoken Hall, Tokyo, November 11, 1989 (film for television)
Personnel: Harry "Sweets" Edison, Joe Newman, Snooky Young, Al Aarons, Ray Brown, trumpet; Al Grey, Benny Powell, Grover Mitchell, Michael Grey, trombone; Marshal Royal, Curtis Peagler, alto sax; Frank Wess, tenor sax, flute; Billy Mitchell, tenor sax; Bill Ramsay, baritone sax; Ronnell Bright, piano; Ted Dunbar, guitar; Eddie Jones, acoustic double bass; Gregg Fields, drums.
  • Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival, filmed at Kan-i Hoken Hall, Japan, November 11, 1990 (film for television)
Personnel: Ray Brown, Pete Minger, Joe Newman, Snooky Young, trumpet; Arthur Baron, Grover Mitchell, Dennis Wilson, Douglas Purviance, trombone; Bill Ramsay, Curtis Peagler, alto sax; Frank Wess, tenor sax, flute; Billy Mitchell, tenor sax; Babe Clarke, baritone sax; Tee Curson, piano; Ted Dunbar, guitar; Eddie Jones, acoustic double bass; Dennis Mackrel, drums, Mel Torme, vocal, drums.[6]

Service in the U.S. Armed Forces[edit]

From September 28, 1948, to June 25, 1952, Ramsay served in the U.S. Army. He ended his tour with an honorable discharge.[7]



William George Ramsay was born in Washington to William Mathew Ramsay (1902–1969) and Edna Mae (née Forsythe; surname at death – Skramstad; 1902–1999). William and Edna were married October 22, 1921, in Lewis County, Washington. Edna remarried Thorvald N. Skramstad (1903–1989) in Centralia, Washington on March 26, 1972.


Bill Ramsay had one sister, Gloria Phyllis Ramsay (1923–2003), who, in 1946, married Tim Clarence Oconnell (1918–2008).


Bill married Lillian (née Frankie; born 1931).


Bill and Lillian have a daughter, Jane Susan Ramsay (born 1952) and, grandson, Maxfield Ramsay Marcus, (born 1993).

Audio & video links[edit]


External links[edit]