NEW AMSTERDAM ORKEST
Formed by bassist/composer Billy Eric, the New Amsterdam Orkest is a 13 piece contemporary jazz group. Evolving out of a weekly, informal brass ensemble rehearsal led by famed jazz composer/arranger David Matthews, Billy was able to learn the craft of writing for many horns. It was yet another self-taught journey for this mostly self-taught musician.
Just 6 months of guitar lessons at age 12 was enough to spark a lifetime in music for Billy. He switched over to bass and after learning middle C on the piano, went on to teach himself the instrument. By 14 Billy was already starting to write his own music and became influenced by the heavy weight progressive rock bands of the day. Being a mostly self-taught musician, he pursued to learn more, and in 1978 was accepted by the Berklee College of music in Boston.
Although not yet into jazz and even unaware Berklee was a jazz school, a roommate played Billy a piece of music that would change his musical life completely. Not only did he open up to jazz, but he even developed a love for the once hated sound of the saxophone. In the mid ‘80’s he started working as an assistant engineer in a jingle recording studio. Like a sponge, he absorbed the musicality from the great composers and arrangers he worked with daily. The best of NYC’s A list studio players also added to Billy’s stylistic awareness. In 1991 after performing a song from his first CD on a national TV show, Billy switched from bass to lead guitar, in order to “sing” his own songs, as he likes to say. Not having a singing voice, Billy naturally gravitated to instrumental music.
Around 2010 Billy’s music began taking a more progressive turn, as he experimented with an expanded color palette. The end result is the New Amsterdam Orkest, featuring an 8-piece horn section. For this group Billy switched back to the role of bass player, preferring to propel the band from behind. Melody, rhythm, harmony, and texture are the core elements built upon a foundation of contemporary jazz.