• Born 1972
Often appears with
American cellist Zuill Bailey is one of his country's foremost players of the cello, with a long record of concerto appearances around the Western hemisphere, as well as recitals and chamber music appearances. In the late 2010s, he was signed to the Steinway & Sons label and has contributed to what the label calls an "exploration of the golden age of American concert music."
Bailey was born James Zuill Bailey in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1972. His father was a music education scholar, his mother a pianist, and he took Suzuki lessons on the cello as a child. Growing up in northern Virginia, he had access to the world-class concert world of Washington, D.C., and specifically to the activities of cellist and National Symphony Orchestra conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, who would make visiting musicians available for lessons through the symphony's fellowship program. Thus, Bailey was able to take lessons with, among others, Lynn Harrell and Janos Starker. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and then a master's at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Joel Krosnick of the Juilliard String Quartet. Bailey's New York recital debut, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with pianist Simone Dinnerstein, was sold out, and he has gone on to make appearances at top national halls such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. He has a particularly strong record of concerto appearances, including not only performances with major American orchestras but also those in Mexico, Japan, and Cuba, where he gave that country's premiere of Victor Herbert's Cello Concerto No. 2 with the National Orchestra of Cuba. An enthusiastic chamber music player, Bailey is a member of a piano trio with Navah Perlman and Giora Schmidt. Among his frequent recital partners have been pianists Awadagin Pratt and Orion Weiss. Bailey is a professor of cello at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Bailey's recording catalog is large, especially by American standards. He has recorded for various labels, including Delos, Telarc, and, since the 2014 album Some Other Time, Steinway & Sons. On the latter label, he released a recording of Schumann's Cello Concerto and Brahms' Double Concerto, joined by violinist Philippe Quint on the Brahms, in 2019.