Tales Episode 15: Buddy Williams, pt 1 & 2

Buddy Williams interview is presented in two parts. Enjoy!

When I thought about how to begin this post, the first thing that came to mind was Bob Baldwin’s quote taken from Buddy Williams website. Mr.Baldwin’s statement was the most definitive and perfect in-a-nutshell quote about Buddy William’s career and artistry.

“Buddy Williams has got to be one of the most 10 recorded drummers of all time. Period.
The resume is just ridiculous. You have to just see it to believe. The page is evolving, but it was necessary to post immediately for the world to see.”  
Bob Baldwin

I knew to capture the voluminous career of Buddy Williams in an interview would prove to be not only a challenge, but also not realistic. To do a tiny bit of justice to such a prolific individual, I decided to do this show in two parts. And as you’ll find out there still wasn’t enough time. (as  of 2020 show is presented in it’s entirety.)

The one thing that is evident from the moment we began this entertaining and educational interview, is that ‘Budson’ is a straight shooter, down to earth, warm, great sense of humor, and a human encyclopedia when it comes to music industry. From his days as a youth playing in his own band, Natural Essence, to getting schooled by greats such as Eubie Blake, Nat Adderley Sr., Walter Booker, or his writing, performing and recording  for television, movies and Broadway, (The Wiz, Motown the Musical, Color Purple to name a few) or working with legends such as Bette Midler, Robert Flack, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones,  what is apparent is that Buddy Williams is an integral part of the entertainment industry as we know it.This interview genuinely stands apart for it speaks volumes about a talented, hardworking artist who has spent his entire life doing the thing he loves.

I met Buddy Williams while touring with Michael Franks. Because Buddy was so busy, we were only blessed to have in the band for one tour. But that one tour turned out for me to be a doorway to a MAJOR life change. By meeting and getting to know Buddy, I got to meet his incredible mother, NePortia, who became my mentor, my dear friend. And I can honestly say that my old life would become dead and buried, completely destined to never be the same again. I have since then become a member of ‘Budson’ family. Yeah, that’s his nickname and he talks about how he came to be call that in part one of our interview.

In some circles there is a debate about whether ones’ environment plays a greater or lesser part in how one turns out. I feel that some of us definitely move toward what we are exposed to and Buddy grew up surrounded by art, music and musicianship. Is he a product of that environment? What do you think?

 About Buddy Williams

I’ve yet to find a total comprehensive bio online or anywhere for that matter that provides the listener with all of the work that Buddy Williams has accomplished. One day we will have all the information in one place, until now you’ll just have to search and find……….a dazzling talent comes on the scene who amazes everyone by his talent and ingenuity… Buddy Williams is such a talent.

Buddy Williams has become one of the best drummers in the music world. Known world-wide for his dynamic energy, electrifying technique and unerring ability to compliment and accompany the most discriminating of instruments and talents.

Buddy is not classified as just a drummer, his abilities extend beyond that into the abilities of vocals, composer, arranger and producer.

Having been in the business for over forty years, Buddy started playing professionally at the age of eight years old. Subsequently, Buddy attended the prestigious High School of Music and Art (along with other such notables as Noel Pointer, Tom Browne, Dave Valentine, Marcus Miller and Bernard Wright) and the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

A prolific performer, Buddy’s abilities span across varied musical styles. His playing with the group ‘Natural Essence’, while attending the Music & Arts High School, lead to later opportunities with notable and diverse musicians.

His exhilarating presence and melodic insight creates an unyielding guide which is why Buddy currently tours with Herbie Mann’s 40th Year Reunion Band, Tania Maria, George Benson, Roberta Flack and Patti Austin.

Buddy William’s credentials list as ‘Who’s Who’ of the music industry. His virtuosity and unique style has been utilized in touring with the best… Tom Browne, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Regina Bell, The Manhattan Transfer, Al Jarreau, Bob James, Peabo Bryson, The Grp All Stars, Will Downing, Saidah Garrett, Melissa Morgan, Jeffrey Osborn, Ernie Watts, Houston Persons, Hugh Masakela, Richard Tee, Alex Bugnon, Chaka Khan, Nancy Wilson, George Duke, Dave Valentine, David Sanborn, Bette Midler, Stanley Turrentine, Noel Pointer, Angela Bofill, Asford & Simpson, Herb Alpert, Linda Ronstadt, Teruo Nakamura, Sadao Watanabe, Michael Franks, Nat Adderley Sr. & Jr., Michael Jackson, Rachael Farrell, The Sisters of Glory (Thelma Houston, Cece Peniston, Phoebe Snow, Lois Walden and Alberta Walker), Mariah Carey, Anita Baker, Leslie Uggams, Lena Horne and the list continues… With credentials such as this, one has to be more than good… one has to be exceptional!

One of the highlights of Buddy’s career was to be asked to play at the extraordinary ‘One Night Stand’ concert at Carnegie Hall. This one-time only event featured some of the best jazz musicians in the world: Eubie Blake, Herbie Hancock, Ramsey Lewis, George Duke, Sir Roland Hanna, Kenny Barron, Rodney Franklin and of course… Buddy Williams.

Buddy has performed on two New York Grammy Awards shows, produced records such as the LP featuring NY Air personality Roscoe and Herbie Mann’s LP ‘Astral Land’ (co-produced). His composition, arranging and production skills are present in the soundtrack for ‘Bustin Loose’ (worked with Roberta Flack) and on Luther Vandross’ LP ‘Never Too Much’.

Appearing with his own band, Buddy’s appearance has been broadcast on the Fox 5 ‘Good Day New York’ show (1990) and ‘Good Morning America’ (1992). He has been interviewed for: ‘Downbeat’, ‘Modern Drummer’, ‘Ebony’, ‘EM’ (Ebony Man), ‘Swing Journal Magazine’ (Japanese based publication), and ‘Talking Drum’ along with various other publications.

Buddy Williams has a reputation of being considered ‘One of the most respected musicians in the business’ by his peers, which is no small accomplishment. He is also considered to be admirable and one of the most professional and trustworthy musicians in the business. He is Governor in NARAS and a member of SAG and AFTRA. Buddy was an integral part of the Saturday Night Live Band for over twelve years. The consummate professional, Buddy exemplifies his musicianship in his live and studio recording. His work is heard on numerous recordings (audio & visual), radio and television commercials: Double Mint Gum, Kodak Film, Western Union, Lysol, M&M Candies, Navy Perfume, Hawaiian Punch, Jamaica Tourism, etc…

Buddy Williams… a moving force in today’s music both nationally and internationally acclaimed. He has conducted many drum seminars, workshops, and lessons on behalf of Yamaha and various charitable organizations worldwide. Having a loyal and strong fellowship in Japan, he is known as ‘Buddy San’.

Buddy’s Musical integrity , heart and soul are ever present in the music we hear everyday. Perhaps his face is not known, but our ears recognize him in a ‘heartbeat’.

A true ‘musician’s musician’, Buddy Williams can only be described as… distinct.

bio taken from Buddy Williams website

Tales from the Jazzside