Equally at home in a multitude of musical idioms, Chad Willis has visited 20 countries and as many states, performing with Lyle Lovett, Kurt Elling, The Manhattan Transfer, Eugene Corporon, Bill Conti, Houston Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Southern California Brass Consortium, United States Air Force Band of the Golden West, The Pacific Brass, Orange County Wind Symphony, Jeff Daniels, Doug Cameron, Bryan Pezzone, Bill Holman, Rich DeRosa, Wayne Bergeron, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Bob Mintzer, John Daversa, David Ricard, Donny Most, Lyle Mays, Lynn Anderson, Frankie Valli, Clare Fisher Big Band, Brent Fisher, The Platters, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Crystals, Bowser from Sha Na Na, The Dixie Cups, Denis Deblasio, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Darcy James Argue, John Mosca, Tim Ries, Bernard Fowler, Bob Curnow, Chris Vadala, Shadmehr Aghili, Scotty Barnhart, Brad Leali, Arnold McCuller, Francine Reed, James Morrison, Matt Rollings, Jim Cox, Russ Kunkel, Jim Riggs, John Wasson, the Billie Leadbetter Big Band, the Houston Civic Jazz Orchestra, the Dallas Original Jazz Orchestra, the Nobles of Note, The American Jazz Composers Orchestra, Rikki Derrek, Colette Lush, Becky Martin, Steve Huffsteter, Mike Barone, Steve Hass, John Netzinger, Viktor Krauss, Keith Sewell (Dixie Chicks music dir.), Luke Bulla, Buck Reid, Harvey Thompson, Charles Rose, Stuart Duncan, and many more.
Beginning his career playing on cruise ships, he traveled extensively throughout the Pacific Ocean from Canada to Tahiti. Mr. Willis is currently the brass coordinator at Fullerton College where he teaches private trumpet lessons. Other classes under his direction are Brass Methods, Jazz Lab Band, Brass Ensemble, Alternative Lab Band, and Music Theory. As an educator, Mr. Willis is also active as an adjudicator for jazz and music festivals in the area. He also plays a role in the Fullerton College Jazz Festival.
While earning his bachelors degree in Jazz Performance from the internationally renowned University of North Texas School of Music, Mr. Willis played Lead trumpet in the 6 time Grammy nominated One O’Clock Lab Band, Lead trumpet in the Jazz Repertory Ensemble and Two O’Clock Lab Band, Principle trumpet in both the Symphony Orchestra and the Wind Symphony, in addition to several brass quintets and various chamber ensembles. Chad was also invited to play with the Dallas Brass over the summer of 2011. Outside of his collegiate work, Mr. Willis performed in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with a wide variety of groups from jazz, latin, to classical, including becoming a member of Lyle Lovett’s Large Band.
After earning his bachelors degree from North Texas, Mr. Willis went on to earn a Masters degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Southern California where he had the chance to play under the direction of Bob Mintzer. While attending USC Mr. Willis was asked to record on Bob Mintzers “All LA Band” album. While attending USC, Mr. Willis continued to tour with Lyle Lovett and the Manhattan Transfer.
Possessing a commitment to music education, Mr. Willis gives master classes for schools and festivals in the surrounding areas.His list of teachers includes Boyde Hood of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Robert Walp of the Houston Symphony, Dennis Dotson of the Woody Herman Thundering Herd and Jay Saunders of the Stan Kenton Orchestra.