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Montreux '72

Tony Williams


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Tony Williams,
Percussionist Extraordinair!

Montreux Jazz Fest. 1972 with Stan Getz (sax), Chick Corea (piano), Stanley Clarke (bass), and Tony Williams (drums).

Anthony Tillmon Williams was born in Chicago on December 12, 1945 and grew up in Boston. He was of African, Portuguese, and Chinese descent. He began studies 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 at 16. At 17 Williams found considerable fame with Miles Davis, joining a group that 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 inventive playing helped redefine the role of jazz rhythm section through the use of polyrhythms and metric modulation (transitioning between mathematically related tempos and/or time signatures).

Williams was an integral participant in the early-mid 60's avant-garde movement, playing on such classics as Jackie McLean's "One Step Beyond," Grachan Moncur III's "Evolution and Some Other Stuff," Sam River's "Fuchsia Swing Song," Andrew Hill's "Point of Departure, and Eric Dolphy's "Out to Lunch." His first album as a leader, 1964's Life Time, w"as also in the avant-garde vein. Many of these progressive albums are considered amongst the greatest jazz recordings of all time.

In 1969, he formed a trio, The Tony Williams Lifetime, with John McLaughlin on guitar, and Larry Young on organ. Jack Bruce joined on bass later. Lifetime was a pioneering band of the fusion movement, a combination of rock, R&B, and jazz. Their first album, Emergency!, was largely rejected by the jazz community at the time of its release. Today, "Emergency!" is considered by many to be a fusion classic.

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