Steve Williams (jazz drummer)

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Steve Williams
Steve Williams, jazz drummer.jpg
Williams in New York City in 2007.
Background information
Birth name Stephen Edward Williams
Born (1956-01-07) January 7, 1956 (age 60)
Origin Rochester, New York, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Drummer
Instruments drums
Years active 1980–present
Labels Elabeth
Associated acts Shirley Horn
Miles Davis
Toots Thielemans
Ron Carter
Milt Jackson
Freddie Hubbard
Joe Williams
Larry Willis
Mulgrew Miller
Gary Thomas
Branford Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Carmen McRae
Roy Hargrove
Members Olivier Hutman (p)
Michael Bowie (b)
Donvonte McCoy (t)
Antoine Roney (s)

Stephen Edward Williams (born January 7, 1956) is an American jazz drummer.

For twenty-five years he collaborated with jazz pianist and singer Shirley Horn.

From Washington DC[edit]

Williams was born in Rochester, New York and grew up in Washington, DC. He continued his music education at the University of Miami. There he joined Monty Alexander's band, with whom he started to perform on the international scene. He furthered his music education in New York, with Billy Hart.

Back in Washington, Williams played locally with Milt Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Williams, Woody Shaw, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, John Hicks, Larry Willis, Mulgrew Miller and many others. He joined Gary Thomas' band, with whom he recorded one of his first compositions, "Pads".

With Shirley Horn[edit]

Then he joined Shirley Horn, who would keep for twenty-five years the same rhythm section: Charles Ables (bass) and Steve Williams (drums). Critic Don Heckman wrote in the Los Angeles Times (February 2, 1995) about "the importance of bassist Charles Ables and drummer Steve Williams to the Horn's sound. Working with boundless subtlety, following her every spontaneous twist and turn, they were the ideal accompanists for a performer who clearly will tolerate nothing less than perfection". His music relationship with the pianist and singer gave him the opportunity to tour the world and record with such artists as Toots Thielemans, Branford Marsalis and Wynton Marsalis, Carmen McRae, Roy Hargrove and Miles Davis.

To NYC[edit]

After his long collaboration with Shirley Horn, who died in 2005, Williams moved back to New York in 2006, where he studied with Michael Carvin. He performs among others with the Slagle/Stryker Band, Paul Bollenback, Roni Ben-Hur, Larry Willis, the John Hicks Legacy Band, Bill Saxton, Bob Mover, Amy London, Sara Lazarus, Ben Vereen, Joe Lovano, Eddie Henderson, Carmen Lundy, Bob Stewart, Clifton Anderson. Known for his refinement with Shirley Horn, Williams is also appreciated as a powerful and sensitive instrumentalist.

He pursues his music career with his own quintet, promoting original compositions by the band members. His first album as the leader of New Incentive was released in January 2007. The musicians are: Olivier Hutman (p), Michael Bowie (b), Donvonte McCoy (t), and Antoine Roney (s). John Hicks, Gary Bartz and Roy Hargrove are guests.


New Incentive

  • "The enjoyment he derives from inspiring everyone here couldn't be more obvious"... more
    Mike Joyce, Washington Post, February 23, 2007
  • "Steve Williams emerges as a leader with a potent modern-bop quintet"... more
    Jazz Times, May 2007
  • "This record is a splendor. It revivals the kind of emotion that you only feel listening to the great sessions from the sixties. The compositions, signed by Steve Williams or other musicians from the band are dazzling. It is one of those that gives the strength to get up in the morning and the will to stretch out the night"... more
    Renaud Czarnes - Les Echos, January 26, 2007
  • "Superb debut as a leader. A true musical project, a real personality of instrumentalist and a surrounding in full sympathy with a determined leader: in short, an album of inspired jazz"...more
    Jean Szlamowicz - Jazz Hot, February 2007
  • "Each of Steve Williams interventions –breaks and choruses- as well as his accompaniment show clearly that it was time for him to lead this kind of band"... more

Henri Marchal in La Semaine des Spectacles, January 24, 2007

  • "This album has to be recommended"... more

Jacques Aboucaya, Jazz Magazine, February 2007

  • "A session of exceptional quality"... more
    Discovery records - January 2007

Other reviews

  • "Steve Williams' playing here generated the kind of rhythmic drive that Art Blakey excelled at during his heyday."

Chuck Obuchowski Hartford Courant - May 10, 2009, referring to a performance with the Joe Lovano Nonet.


As leader
  • 2006: New Incentive
As sideman

External links[edit]