This month's Rhythm magazine celebrates a half-century since the release of Tony Williams' seminal jazz fusion classic Life Time, and talks to many of his friends and musical collaborators about the great man's life and work. We also break down some of Tony's signature licks for you try and emulate, and there's a video playalong of Herbie Hancock’s 'Cantaloupe Island' on which Tony played. Meanwhile here's what some of the stars of the drumming world had to say about the influence of Tony on their playing.
“I met another drummer at a music camp when I was about 12 and he asked me who my favouriteplayer was. I said Buddy Rich… he said Tony Williams. I’d never heard of him and I often wonder where that kid is nowbecause, man, namechecking Tony at that age – he knew what was up!
“Anyway, I went straight to the local record store where I found //Ego//, and I bought it, took it home and put it on my turntable. to begin with it was like hearing another language – a higher intelligence trying to speak to you – and I couldn’t understand it.But the following day I put it on again and bang – I got it! That was the moment that Tony Williams changed my life.”
Tony Royster Jr
“I saw some of his videos when I was younger and at the time I didn’t really understand how big an impact he made on the drum industry, I just knew that he was an incredible drummer. that was just through word of mouth, asking other drummers and musicians, ‘who are the best drummers in the world?’ through that I found Buddy rich, I found Gene Krupa, Louie Bellson, all of the legends…
"Tony Williams was one of the best drummers I’ve seen. But when Tony passed away I saw that as the perfect opportunity for me to really show respect for what he did in the drum industry and that was my reason for dedicating the drum solo that I did.”
“I was so impressed by Tony Williams’s freshness andaudacity. He was like a gift from the planet Mars.”
Rodney Holmes (Randy Brecker, Al Jarreau)
“With Tony it was like this mystery, he was a magician, the way he played the subdivisions between the hi-hat and the ride cymbal. I couldn’t really play it but I would listen to it. I wanted to be able to make the drums sound like that.”
“Tony Williams is one of my favourite drummers of all time, there's never going to be anyone like that again. Here he's not as aggressive as he normally would be. To be honest, I never knew he was on this track because this is not typical Tony. This is the rhythm section that made Miles Davis famous, that really changed jazz. All I can say is that Tony was the baddest ever.”
Tony Williams issue out now!
There's still time to get hold of a copy of Rhythm's Tony Williams issue. Fifty years on from the release of his seminal Life Time album, we look back over the life and work of a true drumming pioneer, with contributions from those who knew and worked with the great man.