Pennsylvania native Billy Test is a pianist, composer, arranger, and educator. Currently holding the piano chair in the Grammy award winning WDR Big Band in Köln, Germany, Billy splits his time between Europe and the United States, maintaining a busy schedule as a performer, composer, and educator.
Billy’s piano playing blends the joys and sorrows of jazz and blues with the finesse and harmonic depth of classical music. His warm touch and clear tone can roar with excitement or sigh with woe. His improvisations are always in the moment, preferring to take risks and be daring rather than play it safe.
Billy grew up in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, later relocating to the New York City area to follow his musical ambitions. During his time on the New York scene, he performed at Carnegie Hall, The Village Vanguard, Smalls, and Mezzrow with artists including, Dave Liebman, Rufus Reid, Miho Hazama, Joe Magnarelli, Rich Perry, Joel Frahm, Tony Moreno, Marc Mommaas, Ron Horton, Michael Feinberg, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Beyond Manhattan, Billy has played venues including The Kennedy Center and Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA, and Chris’s Jazz Café in Philadelphia.
Billy has held the piano chair with the Grammy Award Winning WDR Big Band in Köln, Germany since September 2018. Playing under the direction of Chief Conductor Bob Mintzer and Composer in Residence Vince Mendoza, Billy has appeared on several WDR Recordings and radio/television broadcasts and performed with the band at a plethora of leading European jazz festivals, including the London Jazz Festival and the Berlin Jazz Festival. The WDR Big Band has played Test’s arrangements and compositions, and his abilities as a soloist have been extensively featured.
Billy is an alumnus of William Paterson University, where he studied under the tutelage of Mulgrew Miller and Harold Mabern. He holds a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, where he studied under Jim McNeely and Phil Markowitz. Billy was a finalist in the 2019 American Pianists Awards, received second place in the 2017 Montreux Solo Piano Competition, and was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Nottingham Solo Piano Competition.