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Buster Williams: Always Something More

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Bassist Buster Williams is one of the most accomplished and in-demand bassists on the jazz scene today. His nearly six-decade career has included performances, tours, and recordings with such luminaries as Art Blakey, Mary Lou Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Lee Konitz, Errol Garner, and Freddie Hubbard, among countless others.

Williams first learned music from his father, who was a bassist, pianist, and drummer. After being inspired by Oscar Pettiford’s Star Dust, he took up the bass in his early teens. Thanks to his father’s connections, he was able to play with Jimmy Heath as a teenager, and shortly after graduating from high school, he toured with Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons. He made his recording debut with this group in 1961 with Dig Him! and Boss Tenors, both recorded in Chicago.

After briefly attending the Combs College of Music in Philadelphia, he became known as an excellent accompanist for vocalists, playing and recording with Betty Carter, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson in the early-mid 1960s. After moving to the West Coast to record and perform with Nancy Wilson, he picked up work with Kenny Dorham, Bobby Hutcherson, and ultimately Miles Davis in 1967, at which point his career really took off.

He moved to New York City in 1968 and continued to add to his resume, playing with Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Mary Lou Williams, and McCoy Tyner, among many others. This period culminated in his joining Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi Sextet, of which he was a crucial member from 1969 to 1973 on both electric and acoustic bass.

After leaving this group, Williams recorded his debut as a leader with the 1975 album Pinnacle for Muse Records. Williams continued to perform mostly as a sideman, but in the 1980s he formed two collaborative ensembles, the Timeless All-Stars and Sphere, and in 1989 he recorded Something More, with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Al Foster, and Shunzo Ono. This record was the catalyst for the formation of his current touring group Something More, which has toured Europe, Japan and Australia.

Buster Williams and Something More will hit the Rachel Brown Theatre in Winnipeg on June 22 as part of the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival. Don’t miss your chance to see a legend perform!

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