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Jazz - Released August 12, 1965 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released October 27, 1992 | Legacy - Columbia

This CD has all of the music from drummer Tony Williams' Believe It and Million Dollar Legs LPs. The best-known version of Williams' Lifetime is the trio he led during 1969-1970 with guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young. There are times (particularly on the first half of this reissue) that this later edition of Lifetime approaches the power and creativity of the original group. Key among the sidemen is guitarist Allan Holdsworth, a very underrated and creative musician whose style falls between rock and jazz and who often improvises more like a keyboardist than a guitarist. Alan Pasqua on electric piano and bassist Tony Newton (who also takes a few forgettable vocals) complete the group; background brass and strings are added to some of the songs in the later date. Although not flawless (some of the music has dated), these long-overlooked performances are worth exploring by fusion collectors, especially for Holdsworth's fiery yet thoughtful solos. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

Drummer Tony Williams' first recording as a leader (made when he was 18 and still billed as Anthony Williams) gave him an opportunity to utilize an advanced group of musicians: tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Herbie Hancock, and both Richard Davis and Gary Peacock on bass. Williams wrote all four of the pieces and has a different combination of players on each song. The freely improvised "Memory" features Hutcherson, Hancock, and Williams in some colorful and at times spacy interplay; "Barb's Song to the Wizard" is a Hancock-Ron Carter duet; "Tomorrow Afternoon" has Rivers, Peacock and Williams in a trio; and all of the musicians (except Hutcherson) are on the sidelong "2 Pieces of One." The unpredictable music holds one's interest; a very strong debut for the masterful drummer. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released November 28, 1979 | Columbia

It would be an understatement to say that there was a fair amount of variety on this set. Drummer Tony Williams is heard in two duets with keyboardist Jan Hammer, with a quartet also including keyboardist Herbie Hancock, Tom Scott (who unfortunately sticks to lyricon) and bassist Stanley Clarke, and he welcomes rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose, keyboardist Brian Auger, guitarist George Benson, Hammer and tenorman Michael Brecker on other tracks. Much of this music is closer to R&B than to jazz, although there are many strong moments. But the most interesting selection is certainly "Morgan's Motion" which matches Williams with pianist Cecil Taylor in a powerful (and completely atonal) collaboration. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

This live two-CD set, one of the last recordings by the Tony Williams Quintet before it disbanded, is a fine retrospective of the group's music. All but the Beatles' "Blackbird" are originals by the drummer/leader, and the 11 lengthy performances (only two songs clock in at less than nine minues and 51 seconds) give one a strong idea as to how the quintet sounded during a typical club performance. Trumpeter Wallace Roney and the versatile Bill Pierce (on tenor and soprano) have their spots, and pianist Mulgrew Miller is well-featured on the thoughtful "Citadel" while bassist Ira Coleman is heard purely in a supportive role. There is never any doubt who the leader is, for Tony Williams dominates the ensembles, taking several five-minute drum solos and being quite prominent in the mix. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Ego

Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Verve

Easily the weirdest record the Tony Williams Lifetime ever released, 1971's Ego is an experimental blend of post-hard bop jazz and the spacier end of psychedelic rock. Larry Young's wafting organ parts and Ted Dunbar's rockist guitar (as opposed to the more traditional jazz bent of the guy he replaced, John McLaughin) combine to make parts of the album sound like Atom Heart Mother-era Pink Floyd, particularly on "There Comes a Time" and "Lonesome Wells (Gwendy Trio)." Unfortunately, both of those tracks are bogged down by vocals (by Williams and Jack Bruce, respectively) singing Williams' own earnest and not terribly inspired verse. The best tracks are those that dispense with the lyrical claptrap -- the liner notes are also a terribly dated hoot -- and get down to the creation of some roiling atmospheres and powerful group improvisation. In that regard, things really pick up at the end, with the ghostly "Mom and Dad" and the cacophonous closer "Urchins of Shermese," on which Williams splits the narcoleptic mood of the introduction with some of his most fractured and arrhythmic fills ever, while simultaneously maintaining a groove that's typically snaky and propulsive. Drum geeks will particularly adore the two brief solo pieces, "Clap City" and "Some Hip Drum Shit," which are both technically impressive and short enough not to get dull. Solid jazz-rock, from the days before fusion got painfully dull. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Although a bit underrated, drummer Tony Williams Quintet was one of the top hard bop units of the late '80s. Williams' originals (he contributed all seven of the compositions to this CD) gave his group a fresh repertoire, and his rather loud drumming really forced trumpeter Wallace Roney, Billy Pierce (on tenor and soprano), pianist Mulgrew Miller, and the alternating bassists Ira Coleman (who would soon become the group's only permanent member) and Bob Hurst to play with all of the energy and volume they could muster. This date is easily recommended to fans of the more adventurous side of straight-ahead jazz. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

All of the recordings by Tony Williams' hard bop quintet of the late '80s/early '90s are worth owning. Trumpeter Wallace Roney, Billy Pierce (on tenor and soprano), and pianist Mulgrew Miller offered consistently satisfying solos, bassist Charnett Moffett was excellent in support, and the drummer-leader constantly pushed his sidemen; in concert his "support" could nearly drown out the soloists. For this 1988 studio session, Williams contributed nine originals including "Pee Wee" from his days with Miles Davis. The music is generally straight-ahead and full of passion. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1985 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Tony Williams had never led a straightahead recording session before and is a little higher in the mix than drummers usually rate. But despite the fact that he almost drowns out Bobby Hutcherson's vibes at times, Williams's playing is consistently colorful and would hold one's interest even if he were under-recorded. © Scott Yanow, Cadence /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

The Tony Williams Quintet has two obvious assets that put it ahead of most acoustic jazz bands: Williams's powerful and consistently creative drumming and his compositional talents. On this group's fifth Blue Note recording, the drummer contributed the three-part "Neptune," essentially a feature for his drums, a more memorable original, "Crime Scene," and arrangements of three standards. © Scott Yanow, Cadence /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Blue Note Records

Considering the extraordinary talent assembled for Tony Williams' second Blue Note date as a leader, this could have been a landmark session. Unfortunately, it's not. Spring isn't totally forgettable; on the contrary, the fire expected by members of the Miles Davis Quintet (Williams, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter), all thoroughly influenced by "the new thing," were unleashed completely from Miles' tight rein. Add tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers and Albert Ayler bassist Gary Peacock into this mix and that influence thrived. However, the five Tony Williams compositions (including the drum only "Echo") often failed to provoke the musicians into reaching crucial unity, making Spring haphazard, falling short of the expected goal. Following Spring, Williams would not release another solo date for four years, returning on the Polydor label with the groundbreaking electric rock trio recording Emergency! © Al Campbell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1985 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Tony Williams had never led a straightahead recording session before and is a little higher in the mix than drummers usually rate. But despite the fact that he almost drowns out Bobby Hutcherson's vibes at times, Williams's playing is consistently colorful and would hold one's interest even if he were under-recorded. © Scott Yanow, Cadence /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Although he had recorded the year before using trumpeter Wallace Roney and pianist Mulgrew Miller on Foreign Intrigue, Civilization was the debut record by drummer Tony Williams' hard bop quintet, a group also including Billy Pierce on tenor and soprano, and bassist Charnett Moffett (who would later be succeeded by Ira Coleman). The leader's loud and forceful drumming forced the other soloists to use their maximum power, and his eight originals gave his sidemen challenging compositions to play. With Roney emulating Miles Davis as usual, Williams must have been pleased to have his former boss' sound at his disposal. Although none of the songs caught on as standards, this is an excellent effort. © Scott Yanow /TiVo

Jazz - Released September 17, 2019 | Taurus Records

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Jazz - Released November 16, 2020 | Lo-Light Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | BdG Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1985 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Tony Williams had never led a straightahead recording session before and is a little higher in the mix than drummers usually rate. But despite the fact that he almost drowns out Bobby Hutcherson's vibes at times, Williams's playing is consistently colorful and would hold one's interest even if he were under-recorded. © Scott Yanow, Cadence /TiVo
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Electronic - Released December 23, 2014 | Dance Life Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 6, 2020 | Awesome Recordings

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Lounge - Released January 1, 1997 | ToTam Publishing Company, BMI