Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 25 September 1948, Hampton VA) Tenor and soprano saxes. He grew up in Florida, attended Tennessee State U, went to Boston to be near Berklee, the only school that dealt with jazz then. Turned pro in Boston clubs '70, worked with pianist James Williams, both Pierce and Williams touring and recording with Art Blakey '80-1. Pierce recorded with Gary Burton and the Berklee Allstars octet in Japan '85, returned to Boston to teach and spend time with his family. His small-group straightahead jazz with superb backing can be heard on William The Conqueror '86, with Williams on some tracks, John Lockwood on bass; old pals Keith Copeland on drums and Sid Simmons on piano from Berklee days. Equilateral '88 had Hank Jones and Roy Haynes; Give And Take '87 and One For Chuck '91, were both with Mulgrew Miller on piano, all these on Sunnyside; quartet Epistrophy '92 on Evidence had Christian McBride on bass. One of his best is the exciting CIMP CD Froggin' Around '96 with the Chris McCann--Billy Pierce Trio, McCann on drums and Steve Wallace on bass, all playing at a peak individually and collectively, described by Cadence as 'strong and direct music, made more so without the harmonic mediation of guitar or piano. What's left is all substance -- structural clarity and forceful expression.'