Jacob William - bass player, composer, improvisor and educator

Born and raised in India, Jacob arrived via rare routes to play on the vast fields of Jazz and other creatively improvised and composed musics. Jacob grew-up in a syncretic milieu; attended parochial school and traveled extensively from a very young age. His earliest years in music were spent singing in choirs and being engaged in informal learning of a wide array of diverse hybrid musics and playing various instruments. In his teens, Jacob started playing the bass guitar and soon began playing concerts and festivals all over India in the company of many forward looking elder musicians who had a particularly deep interest in Jazz. Jacob moved to the U.S. in 1991 after receiving a scholarship to study music.

In 2001, Jacob received a Master of Arts in music degree from Wesleyan University, where, his studies and work combined ethnomusicology, world-music and experimental composition under the guidance of Anthony Braxton, Neelu Bruce and Alvin Lucier. In the realm of world-music, he also studied South-Indian vocal music with T. Viswanathan and percussion music with Ramanad Raghavan and David Nelson. During 1998-1999, he attended the New England Conservatory of Music and studied in the department of Third Stream Music / Contemporary Improvisation under Ran Blake and studied the bass with Cecil McBee and John Lockwood. From Berklee College of music, he earned a Bachelor of music degree in 1997, after studying Composition and Arranging while concentrating on jazz bass performance and studied with Bruce Gertz, Whit Browne and Rich Appleman. During this time, he also participated in Kenny Werner and Bob Brookmeyer master classes in composition and improvisation. And, he privately studied jazz improvisation with John Laporta, Hal Crook and Charlie Banacos.


Jacob has worked with a diverse range of renowned personalities in Jazz and World-Music arenas, such as,  Abraham K. Adzenyah, Louis Banks, Ranjit Barot,  Anthony Braxton, Maynard FergusonJoe HuntJay HoggardRudresh Mahanthappa, Charlie Mariano, Gustavo OvallesLen 'Boogsie' Sharpe, Omar Sosa, T. Viswanathan, among many others. And, he has appreared in concert halls, festivals, clubs, studios and other venues in Asia, Europe and the United States. He has also appeared on Indian National Television and Radio DRS (Zurich). Jacob was also founding member of the group J.E.R.M. with drummer Ed Nicholson, saxophonist Rolf Schlonvogt and pianist Michael Beck with whom, between 1998 and 2003 he recorded and toured in the US and Europe.

Jacob has contributed to over 20 recordings; some of which have been released on labels such as Warner, Intuition, Magnasound, among others. In 2009, Jacob's Quartet recording titled Secondary was released internationally by Swedish record label Ayler. In 2010, Jacob recorded the music of his Para Quintet and Trio.

Jacob performs regularly in the Boston area and in recent past has performed with Allan Chase, Tom Hall, Neil Leonard, Dave Bryant, Croix Galipault, George Garzone, Jorrit Djikstra, Joe Morris, Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley, Forbes Graham, Jim Hobbs, Jeff Galindo, Steve Lantner, Pandelis Karayorgis, Laurence Cook, Luther Gray, Chris Bowman, Junko Fujiwara, Jeff Song, Curt Newton, Eric Rosenthal, Syd Smart, Glynis Lomon, Jon Damian, Eric Hofbauer, Garrison Fewell, Jason Robinson, Andria Nicodemou, Laurence Cook, Bill Lowe, Royal Hartigan, Charlie Kohlhase, Noah Kaplan, Joe Moffet, Bob Gullotti, Eric Zinman and many more.

Jacob has composed for a variety of instrumental, vocal and electronic forces and for groups ranging from Jazz combos, Theater and New Music Ensembles including, Memories/Ruminations: a ninety-minute piece for eighteen assorted instrumentalists. Also, interested in exploring the intersections of computer aided real-time interactive improvisation and composition, he is currently researching programming / programmable environments.

Jacob has also been involved in introducing music composition to children and youth using open-ended software tools as part of a collaborative initiative between SETC and MIT scientists and educators who are designing, developing, and deploying new and emergent technologies to significantly impact broad ranging learning processes.


Jacob has taught improvisation and composition on the campuses of Williams College, Bennington College and was a graduate teaching assistant at Wesleyan University. He has also demonstrated and lectured on how to deploy current technologies to enable learning of music in several places, including University of Iowa.

  Jacob has been visiting lecturer at Bridgewater State University and at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth