Tales Episode 03: Willard Dyson

In keeping true to my celebration of 20 years with Michael, this month’s Tales from the Jazz Side guest is one of my hanging buddies while I’m out on the road with the Franks band. It’s true when they say that you can learn a lot about a person from what they do in their spare time. Willard is the type of musician that demonstrates he is as easygoing and adaptable to life on stage and he is off stage. His adventurous and exploratory nature showed me that not only can you have an incredible time performing, but all of the activity that gets you there, can be just as enjoyable and educational.

He has been called, “perfect, imaginative, sensitive, exciting and subtle, with a stunning flair for devastating funk,” in The Wellington Journal. The evidence of this shows when you hear Willard play. All the versatility and his openness to what everyone is playing is undoubtedly why he travels all over the world with a varied genre of artists. He makes playing a song a journey of discovery. Is there any wonder why he gets calls from artists all over the world who want him to come to their country and perform with them?

To find out more about Willard you can visit his Facebook page.

“I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already in me when I arrived on the scene, It was a necessity to me life food or water.”  

Ray Charles

About Willard Dyson

Willard Dyson, an active and extremely talented drummer on the New York and international music scenes, came to New York City in 1986 from Oakland California. A versatile musician, Willard is at home in a myriad of musical genres including Jazz, R&B, African, Latin and Brazilian music. Willard has worked regularly with a diverse group of musicians including Michael Franks, Joe Sample, Charlie Hunter, Regina Belle, Grady Tate, The Boy’s Choir of Harlem, Jimmy Scott, The New York Voices, Dakota Staton, Mark Murphy and Cassandra Wilson. He keeps very active in New York City by playing at local clubs, concerts, various Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, recording and private instruction.

Willard often tours the United States, Japan and Europe as well as numerous other countries. In 2003 he toured North Africa, The Middle East and South Asia as part of the U.S. Department of State and Kennedy Center’s Jazz Ambassador Program. Willard has performed at the New Zealand, JVC, Playboy and Essence Music festivals. He has been called, “perfect, imaginative, sensitive, exciting and subtle, with a stunning flair for devastating funk,” in The Wellington Journal. In 2000 Willard was a featured percussion soloist with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra for the U.S. premiere of Takashi Yoshimatsu’s saxophone concerto “Cyber-Bird”. Willard has also appeared on many national television shows including The Tonight Show, Soul Train, The Arsenio Hall Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show and BET.

Willard has been playing percussion since the 5th grade when he received his first drum set. He also sang in his church choir throughout junior and senior high school and received a scholarship to participate in the prestigious Young Musicians Program at the University of California at Berkeley. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Percussion Performance from California State Hayward University and a Master of Music degree in Jazz and Commercial Music from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

Tales from the Jazzside