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James Williams Obituary


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James Williams - Director of Jazz Studies, Small Ensembles Education: B.S. Mus. Ed., Memphis State University.

Performances: Four years, ten albums with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers; pianist with Alan Dawson, supporting Art Farmer, Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt, Pat Martino, Jean Carne, Red Norvo, and Arnett Cobb; charter member of Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra; performed, toured, recorded with Thad Jones, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Chet Baker and Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, George Duvivier, Art Farmer, Kenny Burrell, Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard and Tony Williams; two appearances on NPR “Piano Jazz" with Marian McPartland.

Recordings: CDs comprise piano-bass-drums trios; larger ensembles with several horns; trio with Boys Choir of Harlem and Diane Reeves; four-piano format with rhythm section; a sextet with three master saxophonists; a classic setting for Clark Terry; solo piano; and “Intensive Care Unit," a jazz-gospel ensemble featuring two vocalists, saxophone and rhythm section. Self-produced his album Alter Ego for Sunnyside Records in 1984; produced albums for Phineas Newborn, Jr., Harold Mabern, Donald Brown, Billy Pierce, Bill Easley, Tony Reedus and Geoff Keezer. His production company, Finas Sound Productions, Inc. has produced numerous concerts and recordings, including “Musical Tributes" and the “The Key Players" series, both at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City.

Compositions and Publications: compositions including “Arioso," “Black Scholars" and “Alter Ego;" folio of solo piano arrangements published by Second Floor Music; tunes appear on albums by Art Farmer, Kenny Barron, Victor Lewis, Gary Burton and Roy Hargrove. Clinics: regular contributor to the International Association of Jazz Educators since 1990; National Combo Camp; artist-in-residence at Eastern Illinois University, Cornish College, the New England Conservatory, Dartmouth College and Harvard University; clinics at numerous colleges.

Other teaching: Berklee College of Music, Hartt School of Music. WP faculty since 1999.

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