Sitting in on drums with bands in which his father played, Tony Williams was on professional stages before he reached his teens. In the early 60s he teamed up with Sam Rivers before settling in New York City where he worked with Jackie McLean before joining Miles Davis. With Davis for most of the 60s, Williams also played in other company, including recording on Eric Dolphy's 1964 classic, Out To Lunch!. After leaving Davis, Williams formed Lifetime, a fusion band that at various times included John McLaughlin, Larry Young, Jack Bruce and Allan Holdsworth; Spectrum: The Anthology (1972). He appeared with Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. and fronted his own fusion quintet, a band that followed in the path of Davis' group although was largely built upon a repertoire of Williams' own compositions, Native Heart (1989). A striking drummer, Williams was from the start a dominating player regardless of the strength of the company he kept, which included at different times Gil Evans and Wynton Marsalis, and he invariably inspired the frontline instrumentalists of the bands in which he played. At the peak of his career at the time of his death (from a heart attack while undergoing surgery), Williams also led Arcana, a group that in some respects brought the earlier Lifetime into a new age. Musicians with whom he played at this time included Mulgrew Miller, Derek Bailey, Bill Laswell and Ira Coleman. As is vividly demonstrated on 1996's Young At Heart, Williams still had much to give to the jazz world.
Followers: Clark Tracey
Influenced By: Alan Dawson...