Billy Carrión Jr was nine years old when he first started playing the alto saxophone. At 14, his High School Band Director asked him to play baritone sax for their Marching Band because there were no bass instruments. These days, Billy is adept at playing every other kind of saxophone; as well as flutes, clarinets, percussion and the electric bass.
ABOUT Billy Carrión Jr
Billy Carrión Jr grew up in a household filled with music. His father, Billy Snr loved Salsa and Afro Caribbean music, this love had its beginnings in Mayagüez Puerto Rico with a salsa band called Orquesta La Solucion and working along side of Frankie Ruiz aka El Papa de la Salsa or ‘the Father of Salsa’.
Billy Snr later worked with Salsa music legends: Ray Barreto, Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Luís Perico Ortiz, La India, Kako & Orquesta, Joe Quijano, Manny Oquendo y Libre and Orquesta Los Rodríguez just to name a few. Billy Jnr will later name Ray Barreto as one of three people who influenced his development as a musician.
5 KURIOUS KIWI QUESTIONS
Do you have interesting friends? I do. I’m a kurious kiwi, so in this LifeStyle section I ask them 5 Questions. Their responses are sometimes startling yet always thought evoking. I ask each of them a common question relating to a Cause they believe in and why it matters to them. Read on to share in their take on what they think really does matter.
Describe your musical style? How does imagination figure in it?
Music is an imaginative universe to begin with. For those in the art of music (not the business side) we take our life experiences and once we have thought them through, they exit as an interpretation of sounds and rhythm filtered through the unique imagination of the musician.
“To describe my music would be to label it and I’m not the biggest fan of labels.”
I stay in the realm of jazz, but even that’s debatable because of the huge influence of video games, Japanese animation, and a mix of my life experiences. Funny thing is, it [my musical style] doesn’t sound anything like the influences. Last time I checked, ‘different’ was a good thing in art. I haven’t found a way to explain it just yet, but for now, my music is me.
Three of the most technically influential musicians in your development as a musician. Who are/were they and what did you learn from them?
In music there are always ‘idols’, people we respect for how they achieve their craft, and how cool they are while doing it. For me, I was influenced away from my actual instrument, the baritone saxophone. My goal as a musician is to be different, so I looked to different instruments for tone and style.
Three musicians that really ‘spoke to me’ were Ray Barreto, Jaco Pastorius, and Freddie Mercury. Ray Barreto (29 April 1929-17 February 2006) was “one of the most profilic and influental Latin percussionists in the history of modern jazz. He spent over forty years refining the integration of Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the improvisational elements of jazz.” He was a percussionist who spanned all genres breaking molds with his music and appearances as a side man with people like Peggy Lee, only to turn around and have a killer Salsa Band.
Jaco (1 December 1951– 21 September 1987) showed me that despite having mental disabilities, he was still the most groov’in bass player alive. Even after his death no-one really brought the same energy, musicianship, and ompf to the groove quite like he did.
And Freddie (5 September 1946– 24 November 1991) I don’t have to say much about him; he was the greatest front man of all time. Singing harmonies and doing things in rock (NO AUTO TUNE) that were otherwise blasphemous!
Tell us a Cause you believe in and why it matters to you
This one is tough. I feel that there is a need for people to see the world and what it needs. People need to learn to help one another. We’re too busy trying to be cooler than everyone else, and in fact, we are losing the very sense of community and love that is needed in these times.
So, I guess a ‘Cause’ that I support is an overall attitude adjustment as to how we view ourselves, and other people. If that changes even slightly, we’d see a huge difference in the world.
Were there technological hurdles you had to overcome in the production of your debut album ‘Transformed Conceptions’. Tell us about them and how you solved them.
There were and still are a lot of hurdles to overcome when releasing a record, especially the first album. Even more so, if you are trying to do something away from the mainstream. My record has three different recording techniques, three different ensemble situations, and took about a year to record. There were about 5 years of failed attempts along the way.
I’m struggling, as we speak, to have people review the record and allow me to perform its music on stages. This is the business side of the music industry where one must have a Publicist, reviews, and one’s own audience before you’re even considered for anything. These cost more than anything I’ve ever purchased in my life!
Whatever happened to, “He’s good! Give him a gig.” Now, its “who’s your publicist, who’s reviewed you, and how many people are you going to bring?”
How does that make sense if I’m trying to get out there now? It’s a struggle I’m going to have to deal with. There will always be technical issues along the way when doing anything.
What’s next? What are you gonna make happen in 2013?
What’s next? Promoting the record as best as I can, with what I have. I’d love people to listen to my music with an open heart and mind. When they do, I think they’ll find their search for something new, different, exciting and emotionally life-changing just might be fulfilled in the album we’ve created.
“As long as I stay focused on my goal, I’m sure I can get my music to the people who will appreciate it and want to buy it too. That’s my goal in the long run.”