Saturday, June 14, 2008

(AVI) Part 8

David Williams' route to the top of the jazz world has been somewhat unconventional: it has taken him from Trinidad to London to New York to Washington, DC to Los Angeles and back to New York. But there is nothing conventional about brilliance, and as a bassist, that is what David Williams exemplifies. His sound is deep and resonant, his section playing seems effortless, his solos are rhythmic and compelling, and his intonation is flawless.

David was born in Trinidad; the island's rich musical heritage was made available to him in an invaluable way --- his father, John "Buddy" Williams, was a highly‑regarded bassist who led his own calypso band. David, meanwhile, went from piano at age 5 to violin at 6 and wasn't fond of either instrument. Although his father did not give him lessons, David watched closely and experimented with the bass on his own. He was also intrigued by the steel pans, and loved to play them. He started to play bass in earnest at age 12. When his sister was awarded a scholarship to study piano in London, David joined her, and studied bass at the London College of Music for a year.

David came to New York for a visit in 1969, and happened upon a workshop run by Beaver Harris, Grachan Moncour and Roland Alexander. When Jimmy Garrison didn't show, David sat in. One night Ron Carter came by and instead of reclaiming the gig, brought in his cello and encouraged David to keep playing. On a tip from Ron, David secured the bass spot with Gap and Chuck Mangione, and when he tired of that, followed another Carter lead to Washington, D.C. and promptly became Roberta Flack's bass player. The alliance lasted for two years, during which time David also worked with Donny Hathaway.

When he returned to New York, David was called to work in a number of situations: The Voices of East Harlem, Donald Byrd & the Blackbyrds (with whom David received his first gold record), a Brazilian gig at the Tin Palace led by Charlie Rouse. During this time he met Cedar Walton and his bassist Sam Jones; David subbed for Sam once or twice. George Coleman, Roy Haynes, Billy Taylor and Junior Cook were among the musicians who hired David; he also played regularly with Ornette Coleman before signing on with Elvin Jones for a two­year stint.

In 1976, David moved to LA and got caught up in the studio whirlwind, appearing on about 20 AVI releases with disco, funk, fusion and pop groups. He played mostly Fender bass with artists including Herb Alpert and Hugh Masekela, David Benoit, Jermaine Jackson, Tuxedo Junction, John Klemmer, even Liberace. The disco hit "Le Spank" garnered him another gold record during this period. Soul is Free, his first album as a leader, was released on AVI in 1979.

AVI Part 8
Lp "Soul Is Free" [AVI 6040] (1978)
12' "Come On Down, Boogie People" [PRO-12-202-D] (1977)

David williams - Come On Down, Boogie People (12" Mix)