Tony Williams Birthday Reflection

Jazz88 celebrates the birthday of legendary jazz drummer Tony Williams, born in Chicago on December 12, 1945. Williams began his professional career at the age of thirteen playing with iconic avant garde saxophonist Sam Rivers. Three years later, he was hired by altoist Jackie McLean and, at the age of 17, he joined the Miles Davis Quintet. This was the groundbreaking group that included Wayne ShorterHerbie Hancock and Ron Carter. Williams is featured on classic Davis recordings like E.S.P.Miles SmilesSorcererNefertiti Miles in the SkyFilles de Kilimanjaro and In a Silent Way.

In 1969, he founded the pioneering fusion band Lifetime, with organist Larry Young and John McLaughlin on guitar.

By the time Williams was 25, music critics hailed his as one of the best drummers in the world. He was inducted into Modern Drummer’s Hall of Fame in 1986 and stands with Max RoachArt BlakeyElvin Jones, and Roy Haynes as one of the most innovative percussionists ion jazz. Williams died in 1997 at the age of 51.

You can check out Williams’ drumming in this video of a group including Stan GetzChick Corea and Stanley Clarke at the 1972 Montreux Jazz Festival playing “Captain Marvel.”

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