After Bill Cunliffe won several Down Beat Awards as an Eastman student, he taught at Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio. His first major gig was pianist and arranger with Buddy Rich, touring Europe with Frank Sinatra. He later performed with Ray Brown, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Art Farmer, Woody Shaw and James Moody.
Bill was the 1989 winner of the $10,000 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Award, and has received stipends from the National Endowment for the Arts. He recently won a jazz composition competition sponsored by the American Composers Form in Philadelphia. His books "Maxx Blues Keyboard,""Jazz Keyboard Inventions" (available 2006) and "Jazz Keyboard Toolbox, " are published by Alfred Publications, his big band compositions are published by Kendor Music and the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Press, and his choral music by Santa Barbara Music Publishers. Bill was Marian McPartland's guest on her famed "Piano Jazz" radio show in June '98.
Cunliffe has released a dozen CD's as a leader. His latest, which spent a month in the #2 position in the JazzWeek radio polls is "Imaginacion" on Torii Records. The tune, "Do It Again" was nominated for a Grammy in 2005.
Bill has composed extensively for big band, chamber groups, choir and orchestra. Recently his compositions and arrangements have been played by the Illinois Philharmonic, the San Diego Symphony, the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, the Reading (PA) Symphony and the New Zealand School of Music Symphony Orchestra. According to the Wellington (NZ) Times, Bill's recent concert at the Wellington Jazz Festival was "Best jazz piano since Oscar Peterson." The BBC Review recently said that "Bill Cunliffe is one of the great players of the day." The Atlanta Jazz Journal gave his album "A Rare Connection" five stars.
He currently plays with the Clayton Brothers Quintet, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and in duet with the renowned flutist Holly Hofmann, in addition to his own projects. He teaches at the Henry Mancini Institute, the Vail Jazz Institute, and the Skidmore Jazz Institute, and is Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Cal State Fullerton.