|Birth name||Anthony Tillmon Williams|
|Born||December 12, 1945|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Origin||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Died||February 23, 1997 (aged 51)|
Daly City, California, U.S.
Williams first gained fame in the band of trumpeter Miles Davis and pioneered jazz fusion alongside pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and saxophonist Wayne Shorter in the so-called Second great quintet. In 1970, music critic Robert Christgau described him as "probably the best drummer in the world". Williams was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1986.
Life and careerEdit
Williams was born in Chicago and grew up in Boston. He is of African, Portuguese, and Chinese descent. He studied with drummer Alan Dawson at an early age, and began playing professionally at the age of 13 with saxophonist Sam Rivers. Saxophonist Jackie McLean hired Williams when he was 16.
At 17 in 1963 Williams gained attention by joining Miles Davis in what was later dubbed Davis's Second Great Quintet. Williams was a vital element of the group, called by Davis in his autobiography "the center that the group's sound revolved around." His playing helped redefine the role of the jazz rhythm section through the use of polyrhythms and metric modulation. Meanwhile, he recorded his first two albums as leader for Blue Note label, Life Time (1964) and Spring (1965). He also recorded as a sideman for the label including, in 1964, Out to Lunch! with Eric Dolphy and Point of Departure with Andrew Hill.
Their first album was Emergency!. After the departures of McLaughlin and bassist Jack Bruce, who had joined the group for its second album, and several more releases, Lifetime disbanded. In 1975, Williams put together a band he called "The New Tony Williams Lifetime", featuring bassist Tony Newton, pianist Alan Pasqua, and English guitarist Allan Holdsworth, which recorded two albums for Columbia Records, Believe It and Million Dollar Legs.
In mid-1976, Williams was a part of a reunion with his colleagues from the Miles Davis band: keyboardist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Davis was in the midst of a six-year hiatus and was "replaced" by Freddie Hubbard. The record was later released as V.S.O.P. The group toured for several years and a series of live albums were released under the name "V.S.O.P." or "V.S.O.P.: The Quintet".
In 1979, Williams, McLaughlin and bassist Jaco Pastorius united for a one-time performance at the Havana Jazz Festival. This trio came to be known as the Trio of Doom, and a recording of their performance (along with some studio tracks recorded in New York shortly thereafter) was released in 2007. It opens with a powerful drum improvisation by Williams, followed by McLaughlin's "Dark Prince" and Pastorius' "Continuum", Williams's original composition "Para Oriente" and McLaughlin's "Are You the One?" Williams and Pastorius had also played together on the Herbie Hancock track "Good Question" from his 1978 album Sunlight. With the group Fuse One, Williams released an album in 1980.
In 1985, he returned to Blue Note and the result was a series of recordings for the label beginning with Foreign Intrigue, which featured the playing of pianist Mulgrew Miller and trumpeter Wallace Roney. Later that year he formed a quintet with Miller, Roney, saxophonist Bill Pierce, and bassist Charnett Moffett (later Ira Coleman). This band played Williams's compositions almost exclusively. Williams also played drums for the band Public Image Limited, fronted by John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), on their release Album/Cassette/Compact Disc (1986, the album title varied depending on the format). He played on the songs "FFF", "Rise" (a modest hit), and "Home". Bass guitarist Bill Laswell co-wrote those three songs with Lydon. The other drummer on that album was Ginger Baker.
On February 20, 1997, Williams checked into Seton Medical Center in Daly City, California, suffering from stomach pain. Three days later, while recuperating from gall bladder surgery, he died of a heart attack. Williams was 51 years old.
Williams lived and taught in the San Francisco Bay Area until his death from a heart attack following routine gallbladder surgery. One of his final recordings was The Last Wave by the trio known as Arcana, a release organized by Bill Laswell.
- Life Time (Blue Note, 1964)
- Spring (Blue Note, 1966) – recorded in 1965
- Emergency! (Verve, 1969)
- Turn It Over (Verve, 1970)
- Ego (Polydor, 1971)
- The Old Bum's Rush (Polydor, 1972)
- Believe It (Columbia, 1975)
- Million Dollar Legs (Columbia, 1976)
- The Joy of Flying (Columbia, 1979)
- Play or Die with Tom Grant and Patrick O'Hearn (P.S. Productions, 1980)
- Foreign Intrigue (Blue Note, 1985)
- Civilization (Blue Note, 1987) – recorded in 1986
- Angel Street (Blue Note, 1988)
- Native Heart (Blue Note, 1990) – recorded in 1989
- The Story of Neptune (Blue Note, 1992) – recorded in 1991
- Tokyo Live (Blue Note, 1993)[2CD] – live recorded in 1992
- A Tribute to Miles with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Wallace Roney (Qwest/Reprise/Warner Bros., 1994)
- Wilderness (Ark 21, 1996) – recorded in 1995
- Young at Heart (Columbia, 1996)
- Lifetime: The Collection (Columbia, 1992)[2CD] – combined Believe It (1975) and Million Dollar Legs (1976)
- Live at The Village Gate (Hi Hat, 2017) – live recorded in 1976
- Live Tokyo 1978 (Hi Hat, 2018) – live recorded in 1978
With Chet Baker
- You Can't Go Home Again (Horizon, 1977)
- Chet Baker / Wolfgang Lackerschmid (Sandra Music Productions, 1980) with Wolfgang Lackerschmid – recorded in 1979
- The Best Thing for You (A&M, 1989) – recorded in 1977
With Ron Carter
- Third Plane (Milestone, 1978)
- 1 + 3 (JVC, 1979) – live recorded in 1978
- Parade (Milestone, 1980) – recorded in 1979
- Carnaval (Galaxy, 1983) – live recorded in 1978
- Etudes (Elektra/Musician, 1983) – recorded in 1982
With Miles Davis
- Seven Steps to Heaven (Columbia, 1963)
- Miles Davis in Europe (Columbia, 1963)
- Four & More (Columbia, 1964)
- My Funny Valentine (Columbia, 1964)
- Miles in Berlin (CBS, 1964)
- E.S.P. (Columbia, 1965)
- Miles Smiles (Columbia, 1966)
- Sorcerer (Columbia, 1967)
- Nefertiti (Columbia, 1967)
- Miles in the Sky (Columbia, 1968)
- Filles de Kilimanjaro (Columbia, 1968)
- Miles in Tokyo (CBS/Sony, 1969) – recorded in 1964
- In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969)
- Water Babies (Columbia, 1976) – recorded in 1967-68
- Circle in the Round (Columbia, 1979) – recorded in 1967-68
- Directions (Columbia, 1981) – recorded in 1967-68
- The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965 (Columbia Legacy, 1995) – recorded in 1965
- Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings – four takes of "Falling Water" (Columbia Legacy, 1996) – recorded in 1968
- Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1 (Columbia Legacy, 2012)
- Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 (Columbia Legacy, 2015)
With Tommy Flanagan
With Herbie Hancock
- My Point of View (Blue Note, 1963)
- Empyrean Isles (Blue Note, 1964)
- Maiden Voyage (Blue Note, 1965)
- V.S.O.P. (Columbia, 1977) – recorded in 1976
- V.S.O.P.: The Quintet (Columbia, 1977)
- V.S.O.P.: Tempest in the Colosseum (CBS/Sony, 1977)
- Herbie Hancock Trio (CBS/Sony, 1977)
- Sunlight (Columbia, 1978)
- V.S.O.P.: Live Under the Sky (CBS/Sony, 1979)
- Mr. Hands (Columbia, 1980)
- Herbie Hancock Trio (Columbia, 1982) – recorded in 1981
- Quartet (CBS/Sony, 1982)
- One Night with Blue Note Preserved (Blue Note, 1985)
- Round Midnight (soundtrack) (Columbia, 1986) – recorded in 1985
- Future 2 Future (Transparent Music, 2001)
With Jackie McLean
- One Step Beyond (Blue Note, 1964) – recorded in 1963
- Vertigo (Blue Note, 1980) – recorded in 1959-63
With Grachan Moncur III
- Evolution (Blue Note, 1964) – recorded in 1963
- Some Other Stuff (Blue Note, 1965) – recorded in 1964
With Sonny Rollins
- Easy Living (Milestone, 1977)
- Don't Stop the Carnival (Milestone, 1978)
- No Problem (Milestone, 1981)
With McCoy Tyner
- Supertrios (Milestone, 1977)
- Passion Dance (Milestone, 1978)
- Counterpoints (Milestone, 2004) – recorded in 1978
- Geri Allen, Twenty One (Blue Note, 1994)
- George Cables, Phantom of the City (Contemporary, 1985)
- Stanley Clarke, Stanley Clarke (Nemperor, 1974)
- Eric Dolphy, Out to Lunch! (Blue Note, 1964)
- Kenny Dorham, Una Mas (Blue Note, 1963)
- Gil Evans, There Comes a Time (RCA, 1976) – recorded in 1975
- Hal Galper, Now Hear This (Enja, 1977)
- Stan Getz, Captain Marvel (Columbia, 1972)
- Dexter Gordon, The Other Side of Round Midnight (Blue Note, 1986) – recorded in 1985
- Jonas Hellborg and the Soldier String Quartet, The Word (Axiom, 1991)
- Joe Henderson, Relaxin' at Camarillo (Contemporary, 1981) – recorded in 1979
- Andrew Hill, Point of Departure (Blue Note, 1965) – recorded in 1964
- Terumasa Hino, May Dance (Flying Disk, 1977)
- Allan Holdsworth, Atavachron – Looking Glass (Enigma, 1986)
- Charles Lloyd, Of Course, Of Course (Columbia, 1965)
- Michael Mantler, Movies (Watt, 1978)
- Ray Manzarek, The Golden Scarab (Mercury, 1973)
- Branford Marsalis, Renaissance (Columbia, 1987)
- Wynton Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis (Columbia, 1981)
- John McLaughlin, Electric Guitarist (Columbia, 1978)
- Marcus Miller, The Sun Don't Lie (PRA, 1993)
- Mulgrew Miller, The Countdown (Landmark, 1989) – recorded in 1988
- Yoko Ono, Starpeace (PolyGram, 1985)
- Michel Petrucciani, Marvellous (Dreyfus, 1994)
- Pop Workshop, Song For The Pterodactyl (Grammofonverket, 1974)
- Public Image Limited, Album (Virgin, 1985)
- Don Pullen, New Beginnings (Blue Note, 1988)
- Sam Rivers, Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note, 1964)
- Wallace Roney, Verses (Muse, 1987)
- Carlos Santana,The Swing of Delight (Columbia, 1980)
- Travis Shook, Travis Shook (Columbia, 1993)
- Wayne Shorter, The Soothsayer (Blue Note, 1979) – recorded in 1965
- Weather Report, Mr. Gone (Columbia, 1978)
- "Tony Williams | Biography & History". AllMusic.
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- "Tony Williams Interview 1995". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- Don, Snowden (August 17, 1989). "Jazz Drummer Tony Williams: A Lifetime of Risky Riffs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
- Miles The Autobiography, Picador, 1989, p. 254.
- Cook, Richard (2008). The Penguin guide to jazz recordings. Brian Morton. London. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-14-103401-0. OCLC 223804125.
- "Fuse One Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- Watrous, Peter (February 26, 1997). "Tony Williams, 51, Drummer Renowned as a Jazz Innovator". The New York Times.
- "Max Roach Remembers Tony Williams".
- Oliver, Myrna (February 26, 1997). "Tony Williams; Innovative Jazz Drummer, Fusion Pioneer". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- Watrous, Peter (February 26, 1997). "Tony Williams, 51, Drummer Renowned as a Jazz Innovator". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- "Arcana: The Last Wave". Jazztimes.com. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- "Tony Williams* – Play or Die (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs.com. Retrieved June 28, 2017.