Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, trumpeter, composer and arranger Bill Mobley moved to New York City in 1987 and has since become a fixture in the city’s flourishing jazz scene. His sideman credits include stints with the Mingus Dynasty Band, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra as well as smaller groups led by Marvin "Smitty" Smith, George Coleman, James Williams, Goeff Keezer, and T. S. Monk among many others.
Mobley began his career in Memphis, Tennessee performing with fellow Memphis University students Mulgrew Miller, Donald Brown and James Williams. All three of these pianists would later go on to become world-renowned performers in their own right, each developing his own brand of a uniquely Memphis-rooted piano style that fused blues and gospel music with the modern harmonic concepts of McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock. It was during this formative period in Memphis that Mobley developed his own distinct harmonic approach to improvising on the trumpet. While somewhat reminiscent of trumpeters Booker Little (a fellow Memphis native) and Woody Shaw, Mobley’s style is clearly his own. Incorporating long sinewy lines followed by unexpected harmonic leaps, Mobley’s trumpet solos stand out boldly from those of his peers.
Just as impressive are Mobley’s contributions as a bandleader, composer and arranger. As of 2010, he has recorded seven albums under his own name, three of which are big band albums, and his groups have performed in venues all across New York City and Europe. His arrangements for big band mirror his unique improvisational style. Firmly rooted in the modern big band tradition of Thad Jones, Mobley’s writing style shows an uncanny mastery of timbre and harmony. Lush, dense chords, unexpected harmonic turns, strategically placed dissonances, angular melodies and a deeply-rooted sense of swing all combine to create music that is exciting, evocative and soulful.
When he is not performing, Mobley is in high demand as an educator and clinician. He has taught in a wide variety of contexts from a Summer Jazz Camp instructor in Maine to a visiting artist in New York Public City Schools to college faculty member at the Berklee School of Music in Boston (1982-86). He presently teaches at William Paterson University, an internationally-renowned jazz program in New Jersey. Mobley has also conducted clinics in performance, arranging and composition at a variety of colleges and universities across the United States.
Bill Mobley continues to maintain a busy performing and teaching schedule. On a given night, he can be found playing with the NuYorkestra, the Pete McGuinness Big Band, the Chuck Braman Quintet or one of his own two groups: the Mobscene Quintet and the Smoke Big Band, which performs every Monday night at the highly-regarded jazz club Smoke on 106th and Broadway in New York City.