Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Williams, Jeff (Jeffrey Lawrence)

Williams, Jeff (Jeffrey Lawrence), drummer, composer, b. Mount Vernon, OH, 6 July 1950.  His mother is Ann Williams (born Barbara Ann Strodtbeck, 1928; adopted). His father is Bradford Williams, b. 1929.  Jeff was raised in Oberlin, Ohio  where father became publisher of weekly newspaper. When Jeff's parents separated 1959, Ann moved to New York, performed as a jazz vocalist in New York from 1960-66, releasing First Time Out  (Charlie Parker/MGM) in 1961.

Williams took several drum lessons at age 8, developed further by playing along with records, and began performing with Count Williams (no relation) and Red Carmen in area jazz clubs at 14.  The association continued through high school while he also began playing with Oberlin College student musicians, culminating in Williams' first recordingin 1968.   Informal lessons with Jo Jones and Oliver Jackson during 1966-67 led to Berklee College of Music (1968-70) and study with Alan Dawson.  Williams moved to New York in June of 1971 and soon became acquainted with Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach, and Frank Tusa, who, along with Williams, and later Badal Roy, would combine to form the group Lookout Farm.  In 1972 he joined Stan Getz for a two-year stay with groups that included Dave Holland on bass and pianists Hal Galper, Beirach, or Albert Dailey for appearances throughout the U.S. and Canada. Williams also appeared with Lee Konitz at the Half Note during this time.  Williams left Getz to join the group for tours of Europe, the U. S., Japan, and India, as well as appearances on subsequent recordings, until it disbanded in 1976. For the remainder of the 70's he freelanced in and around New York, as well as playing regularly in groups led by Ted Curson, Arnie Lawrence, Richard Sussman, and Albert Dailey, while also leading a quintet that included John Scofield.  After a one-year hiatus in York Beach, Maine, Williams moved to Boston in 1981 to resume study with Alan Dawson and take part in the formation of a jazz series at Harvard's Hasty Pudding Club where he performed with Cedar Walton, Lee Konitz, Milt Hinton, Bill Evans, John Scofield, and Miroslav Vitous.  During this period he also performed and recorded with Jerry Bergonzi's quartet Con Brio, along with Mick Goodrick and Bruce Gertz.  Upon returning to New York in 1983 Williams formed the trio Interplay with pianist Peter Madsen and bassist Anthony Cox.  He toured Japan in 1985 with pianist Sakurako Ogyu and bassist Marc Johnson and performed with Michel Petrucciani and Ron McClure the following year.  A return to Stan Getz followed for most of 1988 in a setting that included Kenny Barron or Peter Madsen on piano and Anthony Cox on bass.  Williams performed with the Art Farmer/Clifford Jordan Quintet and the Randy Brecker/John Abercrombie Quartet in 1989.  He began composing for his own ensembles in the mid-eighties, recording Quartet (unreleased)in 1989 with a group comprised of Patrick Zimmerli, tenor saxophone; Kevin Hays, piano; and Scott Colley, bass.  Colley also took part in a trio Williams initiated with guitarist Ben Monder in 1990 for weekly engagements at Bar Room 432 in New York where Williams also appeared with Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman.  With Zimmerli, Hays and the addition of Tim Ries on reeds and Doug Weiss replacing Colley on bass, Williams formed a quintet in 1991.  The group continued performing for the next four years.

Williams toured Japan and recorded with Lee Konitz in 1992, continuing an on-going association that would result in tours of Europe, Brazil, Argentina, many U.S. appearances and several CDs over the next nine years.  Also in 1992, Williams toured Europe with Joe Lovano in the company of Tom Harrell and Anthony Cox.  In 1993 and 1994 Williams performed with Lovano's Universal Language sextet in Europe (three tours) and the U.S.  During the 1990's he also performed and recorded with pianists Roberta Piket, Misako Kano, and Peggy Stern; bassist Lindsey Horner; trumpeter Dave Ballou; and saxophonists Ilhan Ersahin and Tony Malaby. Appearances with Lee Konitz- Brazil ('97) and Sweet Basil ('98). Frequently play Knitting Factory, Internet Cafe, with Malaby, Ben Monder, and Ballou, as well as travel to Europe to tour and record with groups based there.

In 1998 Williams formed Circadian Rhythms with Malaby and bassist Michael Formanek for a series of performances over the next two years and two, as yet, unreleased recordings.  Williams toured Europe in 2001 with Paul Bley.  At the close of 2002 he was involved in projects that included pianist Ethan Iverson, saxophonists Bill McHenry, John O'Gallagher, and Tony Malaby, and trumpeters Duane Eubanks and Dave Scott. 

Recordings:
Coalescence (1991); Jazzblues (1995)

As sideperson:
Ant Trip Ceremony: 24 Hours (1968); Marc Cohen (Copland)/John Abercrombie: Friends (1972); Dave Liebman: Lookout Farm (1973), Drum Ode (1974); Richard Beirach: Eon (1974); Frank Tusa: Father Time (1975); Dave Liebman: Sweet Hands (1975); Richard Beirach: Methuselah (1975); Badal Roy: Ashirbad (1975), Passing Dreams (1975); Lookout Farm: Live At Onkel Po's Carnegie Hall (1975); Dave Liebman: The Last Call (1976); Dizzy Reece: Love, Exorcism, Peace (1977); David Egyes: The Captain (1977); Sam Morrison: Natural Layers (1977); Robert Casel: Fenyes Nap (1977); Richard Sussman: Free Fall (1978); Arnie Lawrence and Treasure Island (1979); Jerry Bergonzi: Con Brio (1983); Con Brio: The Ray (1984); Sakurako Ogyu: My Tender City (1985); Masaru Imada: Smile For You (1985); Ron Getz: Ego State (1988); Frank Kimbrough: Lonely Woman (features compositions by Williams) (1988); Paul Bley: Paul Plays Carla (1991); Kevin Hays: Ugly Beauty (1991); Mike Richmond: Blue In Green (1991); Lee Konitz Meets Don Friedman (1992); Lee Konitz/Peggy Stern: Lunasea (1992); Larry Willis: How Do You Keep The Music Playing (as composer, 1992); Lee Konitz: Rhapsody 1 (1993), Rhapsody 2 (1993); Peggy Stern: Pleiades (1993); Lindsey Horner: Mercy Angel (1993); Sherri Roberts: Twilight World (1994); Lindsey Horner: Believers (1995); Ilhan Ersahin: She Said (1995); Onder Focan: On The Bosphorus (1996); Roberta Piket: Unbroken Line (1996); Misako Kano: Breakthrew (1996); Ron McClure: Pink Cloud (1996); Daniel Guggenheim: Sojourn (1996); Peggy Stern: Room Enough (1996); Dave Ballou: Amongst Ourselves (1997); Viitold Rek: East West Wind (1997); Roberta Piket: Live At The Blue Note (1998); Dave Ballou: Volition (1998); Lee Konitz/Ted Brown: Dig-It (1999); Ethan Iverson/Bill McHenry: Live At Small's (2000); Roberta Piket: Speak, Memory (2000), Midnight In Manhattan (2000); Ari Ambrose: United (2000); Garrison Fewell: Birdland Sessions (2000), City Of Dreams (2001); John O'Gallagher: Axiom (2002)

Unissued recordings:
Over 200 hours of unreleased live and studio recordings from 1972-2002

Videos and broadcasts:
Saxophon Stars with Michael Naura, Dave Liebman & Lookout Farm, 1975, German TV
All About Jazz, Peter Madsen/Jed Levy, 1984  (public access cable)
Club Date, Art Farmer/Clifford Jordan, 1989, PBS
Rhythm Section Plus One, Armen Donelian & Lee Konitz, 1992 (instructional video)
Jazz Set, Joe Lovano & Universal Language, 1994, NPR
The Blue Note Labels At The 28th Montreux Jazz Festival, Joe Lovano, 1994

Bibliography:
Cadence, Vol. 25 No. 2, February 1999
Books:
Lookout Farm: A Case Study of Small Group Improvisation, co-author with the other members of the group, 1976

Webstites:
http://www.allaboutjazz.com, interview by Peter Madsen, 2000

Contact information:
Website:willfulmusic.com
E-mail: drumtouch@aol.com

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