Born in Los Angeles, attending college for music in Boston and then spending his young adult life in Minnesota, Will played the clubs and led jazz bands for decades as he worked toward composing his first album, Tropic Zone released internationally to critical acclaim in 1980. Working alongside Prince, Yanni, The Peterson Family and many others on the Minneapolis music scene at the time, he started to receive industry recognition for his lush, heartfelt themes played over hot Latin rhythms, beautiful slow grooves and, of course, funky, driving electric riffs.
Eventually, a move back to Southern California brought with it the opportunity to dive into film scores, trailers and commercial work, but his heart soon brought him back to his first love, jazz guitar.
The So Cal vibe inspired him to launch his next few CDs including: Tracks and Yuletide Jazz, followed by Coast Drive, Pier Groove, Endless Sumner and Ride the Wave, just to name a few. All have been extremely well-received by the smooth jazz scene and are still getting airplay today on radio, iTunes, smoothjazz.com and numerous other music outlets.
The first symphony composed by Will was performed live by the Riverside, CA Philharmonic in an outdoor amphitheater at the beautiful South Coast Winery in Temecula, CA. Will counts the amazing experience of sharing his music with, not only the audience but an orchestra of his peers, as one of the highlights of a diverse career.
A virtuoso on guitar, piano, and violin, Will still works with other musicians on occasion and teaches music to both children and adults near his home in Carlsbad, CA. He continues to perform at venues throughout So Cal on both guitar and drums and is always evolving his talent as he lays down rich jazz tracks with ease and finesse.
Meadowlark is the title of the 10th album in this dynamic, smooth jazz genre from recording artist, musician and composer; Will Sumner: The title comes from a very special place, both on the planet and in the heart of Sumner and his family.
Meadowlark was the name of a beautiful, lush, working alfalfa farm located near the Yucca Loma Ranch in Apple Valley, CA in the 60's and 70's, owned by Will's grandmother, Mimi.
The Yucca Loma Ranch was just a couple hours drive from the coast where his family spent many summer holidays throughout his childhood. Driving from the So Cal beach community up into the high desert was always an adventure, with many fond memories and some not so fond for Sumner.
A pivotal and life-changing summer in his teens of early mornings and hard, dirty work gave Will some of his best stories and a true appreciation for the beauty of the desert that he still treasures to this day. Will hopes this ode to his grandmother and to the magical place she shared with so many others will have true meaning for you as well in each and every tune.
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
My favorite musical influences are: Mozart, film composer Jerry Goldsmith, Jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Corea, George Benson, Rock legends Led Zeppelin and Blues artist Albert King.
My favorite non-musical influences are all writers: Hunter S. Thompson, Ray Bradbury and my Dad who was a newspaper editor, White House correspondent and a great writer himself.
What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?
Producing 9 so far and now ready to release my 10th CD.
Writing Symphony #1 which was performed by the Riverside CA philharmonic orchestra.
What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Scales, scales and more scales.
Describe your favorite and or least favorite part about being a musician.
The best part of being a musician is creating music people enjoy. The worst part is having to talk about it.
Tell me about your favorite performance in your career.
Playing live at the World Theater in St. Paul, MN, and with it being broadcast live on NPR nationally, knowing friends on both coasts and in between were listening.
If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?
To go back to the day when we had more local radio stations that support, play and even and get to know local artists.
Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry.
Treat your bandmates like a sports team with everyone contributing but knowing there has to be a leader/coach to guide it.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
My father wanted me to be a baseball player and I almost listened.