Al Williams Jazz Society

Al Williams Jazz Society



Al Williams, drummer,entrepreneur and promoter of jazz, has a well-earned reputation as a musical mover and shaker. Williams was born in Pasadena, California, and his love affair with music began at the age of eight when he began studying the clarinet. During high school, he played in the school band, the Boys’ Club Concert Band, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Youth Band. At the age of seventeen, he finally convinced his parents to let him pursue and develop his interest in playing drums, which has continued to be his main musical love. While in college, Williams organized his first band, The Modern Jazz Majors, and their enthusiastically-received performances at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach launched him into the beginnings of a music career, a career that ultimately branched off into two directions—an entrepreneurial and promotional direction, and, of course, the development of his own musical artistry as a drummer and band leader.

As an entrepreneur, he literally brought the excitement of jazz music to Southern California & Long Beach. In 1978, he opened Long Beach’s first jazz club, The Jazz Safari, in the village near the Queen Mary. Expanding and changing the name in 1986, Williams relocated to downtown Long Beach, and his new club, Birdland West, earned acclaim from musicians and critics alike as one of the finest jazz clubs in the nation. In 1988, musical momentum in high gear, he created the project nearest and dearest to his heart when he founded Rainbow Promotions and produced the 1st Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. In August 2007, The Long Beach Jazz Festival celebrates its 20th year and continues to be a major musical event in Southern California.

Williams stays personally connected to music through his drumming—gigging locally and recording. As a talented drummer, his style is crisp and sensitive, reflecting attention to melody and the ability to find the groove that makes it all swing. Whether it be bebop, blues, funk, straight ahead, or Latin, he creates rhythmic artistry and power which support the melody line and command listener involvement. Early experience included touring as a percussionist with the Jennie LeGon Caribbean Dance Troupe. Accomplished audience pleasers wherever they perform, The Al Williams Jazz Society has delighted listeners at the following Jazz Festivals: Queen Mary, Mt. Hood, UCLA, Russian River, Long Beach and the Long Beach Museum of Art summer concert series. His recording and/or touring experience includes work with such jazz greats as the late Hampton Hawes (Something Special), the late Leroy Vinnegar (The Kid), Teddy Edwards, the late Willie Bobo, Kenny Burrell, the late Eddie Harris, and Roy Ayers (Vegas show-stoppers) among others. On a more blusey note, he has kept time for Jimmy Witherspoon and Lowell Folsom.

As a band leader, he has three well-received recordings to his credit, Sandance and Let’s Celebrate, a bringing together of international favorites: Grammy Winner Poncho Sanchez, Roy Ayers, The Jazz Crusaders’ Wayne Henderson, and vocalist Barbara Morrison and his latest Meeting At The Crossroads. The Al Williams Jazz Society is a quintet composed of some of the finest musicians in Southern California. High in energy, melodically sensitive, they are bebop specialists who also perform a variety of contemporary sounds—blues, ballads, Latin rhythms, smooth jazz, etc. Whether it’s the Al Williams Jazz Society or the Al Williams Trio performing, there is always a loyal following of fans who can count on the unique artistry of his bands, bands that always included musicians whose backgrounds are rich in experience and achievement.


2007: Meeting At The Crossroads