DJ Williams Projekt
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DJ Williams Projekt


Band Jazz R&B


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music



Maybe the fastest rising of the rising stars on the Haymaker lineup, The Projekt is another great talent out of Richmond, VA. When you combine a tight groovin’ rhythm section with sweet horn lines and a killer guitarist, you’ve got yourself something. Add some honest to god soul and a ton of amped-up fun and you have a pretty solid winner when it comes to entertaining a crowd. DJ and his guitar are the stars of this show. Complex or simple, his lines become waterfalls of funk chop, picking up speed one minute and slamming a 180 on a dime the next. The Projekt is there to back it up all along – enhancing the ride and tying everything together in a heavy package.
- Haymaker Productions

"The Scene"

At 9:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, Café Diem is already bumpin'. And it's going to get even more so as the night progresses. First the tables and booths fill up, and then bodies start squeeze into the open spaces in between them. At 10 p.m. I have a prime view from a side booth. At 10:30 I'm craning my neck to peer over heads. "This is dead," the waitress tells me. "At 12 you won't be able to see the band." Since early last summer the museum district watering hole has had a secret weapon up its sleeve, luring musicians and audiophiles out like clockwork every week to hear some of the most exciting jazz in the city. It goes by the name of DJ Williams.

"At first it was just the regulars at shows," Williams tells me earlier in the evening. "It didn't take much time at all before more people started coming out." Ostensibly people had been hearing about the guitar virtuoso by word of mouth and were showing up to see what the fuss was about. And once they heard, they kept coming back.

Tonight Williams has a band playing with him: Big Pat on keys, Brian Mahne on bass, Craig Staverse on drums, Jeff X on percussion, and Gordon Jones on sax. On stage Jones and Williams have a great music rapport, Jones playing the wild man to Williams' cool counterpart. When Jones gets funky his elephantine sax, stomping his feet and shouting out, "That's right!" Williams lets his long fingers fly over the strings with blinding speed, setting loose a flurry of notes. The atmosphere is loose and relaxed, allowing for a lot of spontaneity up on stage. With Williams at the helm the band transitions from mellow jazz to jazz/funk flecked with Latin, rock, and reggae. This is not the regular cast that Williams plays with, but you'd never know it from the palpable energy between players.

"I keep it different so that people keep coming back," he says. "Sometimes I play by myself, and sometimes I want the interaction you get back from other musicians." At solo gigs Williams uses a loop machine to get a full band sound. "What happens is that you start playing your melody, hit it and it starts recording. When you hit it again it plays it back. It lets you built layer upon layer." Percussion comes from tapping the body of his acoustic guitar. Williams first discovered the technique through one of his primary influences, bassist Victor Wooten, at a Bela Fleck show in 2001. "It was the kind of thing I did at home as a practice tool. I started to write songs on it, and decided to give it a shot live."

Williams, who grew up on the Southside, started his musical career playing piano at the age of four. Eight years ago he picked up the guitar and taught himself to play mostly by reading manuals and books. "I think it helps you develop an original sound." Along the way he also taught himself to play the bass, drums, clarinet, xylophone, and a little bit trumpet. Now playing full-time, Williams travels up and down the East Coast during the week, splitting most of his time between Richmond and New York. At the end of the month Williams will release his third record, but first collaborative effort. That album, Wrong Notes Write was recorded at Minimum Wage Studio here in town with Jones and drummer Dusty Simmons. The CD release will be at Café Diem. And if it's anything like tonight's show, plan on getting there early.


"Review of Projekt Management"

Guitar upstart DJ Williams looks like he ought to be serving you fries, not the kind of heavy jazz-tinged funk and soul on his debut, Projekt Management. The surprisingly mature young bandleader relies heavily on his Projekt of Richmond funk all-stars for the record’s solid grooves and melodies, but his instrumental voice cements the album into a singular, cohesive vision.

Williams’ light, restrained soloing on the title track lets the smooth fusion textures set the scene without revealing the whole story, and he leaves the spotlight for bassist Todd Herrington on the sonic sunrise of “Day Break.” Guest trumpeter Mark Ingraham jazzes up the funk of “C.A.K.E.,” and along with keyboardist Daniel Clarke and Williams himself, stretches the twinkle-toed fusion of “Panacea” to a fierce tautness before the funky melody finally eases the tension.

The Projekt is his, however, and Williams’ generosity has its limits. His alternately smooth and choppy soloing on the Kool, choreographed boogie of opener “4th Street” is as much metal as jazz or funk, and he tears through the Havana shuffle of “For Her” like a young Castro through a Wal-Mart Super Center.

“Heavy Hands” blends spacey funk and Afrobeats with straight reggae, and the growling vocals on “Satisfaction” have enough soul to blast through the song’s occasional lyrical clichés. The acoustic Lennon/McCartney-ism of “Fly High” showcases a gorgeous melody as well as Williams’ tarsal dexterity, and the young man proves his worth on the dirty, sexy funk of “Woman,” which shakes and shivers down the aisle of a gospel blues revival while Williams cheers from the pulpit.

While the songs are a tribute to Williams’ phenomenal talent and maturity, the whole of Projekt Management, as well as Williams’ rise to the brink, showcases his hometown’s abundant but as yet unappreciated talent. The Projekt members and their guests all come from a Richmond, VA scene that has been simmering quietly for years, but the DJ Williams Projekt’s imminent success could turn up the heat enough to carry the whole city along over the edge with it. Projekt Management is a delicious sample of what the Virginia capital’s got cooking. - Glide Magazine

"He Ain't No DJ!"

DJ Williams uses a guitar instead of a turntable, but that doesn’t mean the 23- year-old axeman isn’t capable of blending styles like the best disc jockey. Offering a horn-heavy mix of funk, R&B, soul, jazz and hip-hop, the DJ Williams Projekt first came together as a trio based around Williams’ jazzy guitar. Gradually evolving into a sextet, boasting keyboards, bass, drums, and saxophone, the DJ Williams Projekt inked a deal with Harmonized Records, and recently issued the ultrasmooth Projekt Management. While Williams’ DJ moniker refers to his initials— his birth name is Donald Jeffrey Ilory Williams, Jr.— the guitarist soon found himself spinning dance-friendly music any turntablist would likely sample. In the past year the group has also expanded its fan base outside the Southeast, scoring an opening spot for John Legend and landing a high-profile gig at the All Good Festival. “We played in front of some 16,000 people and [saxophonist] Gordon Jones and I sat in with Michael Franti,” Williams says. “2005 has been really good to us.”
Mike Greenhaus - Relix Magazine

"DJ Williams Projekt"

" incredibly young, dexterous guitarist...' - Time Out New York

"Floyd Fest 2004"

"...may well have stolen the entire weekend at Floyd Festival." - Glide Magazine


Time In A Teapot (2002)
More On the Inside (2003)
Wrong Notes Write (2004)
Projekt Management (summer 2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


No, he's not a "DJ", that is his name! DJ Williams was born in Plainfield, NJ and grew up in Richmond, VA and started to hit the music scene at 16 years old. A ground breaking instrumentalist and self-taught guitarist has established a unique sound in acoustic & electric guitar. Donald Jeffrey Ilory Williams, Jr. started to play the piano at just 4 years old and along the way picked up the guitar, the bass, drums, and clarinet and became quite proficient at all of them. Now DJ is amazing crowds everywhere with his guitar wizardry backed up by his 5 piece "Projekt".

The last several years have been very productive for DJ Williams as he got the chance to play up and down the east coast, sharing the stage with Umphrey's Mcgee, Keller Williams, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Lake Trout, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Marc Broussard, Citizen Cope, Perpetual Groove, Benevento/ Russo Duo, Melvin Sparks, John Legend, playing the Moon Music Showcase in New York, just to name a few. He has completed two solo albums, “Time In A Teapot” (2002) and “More On The Inside” (2003) as well as collaborations with other musicians on albums for local bands. Currently, DJ has just finished a collaborative album with a trio called the DJ Williams Projekt which has now evolved into a quintet. Richmond is still his main headquarters where he has developed a very strong following here and the surrounding cities. “I just hope to keep expanding and sharing what I believe is a new kind of sound that is progressive and always full of surprises.”

Check these guys out at prestigous festivals like Florida's Langerado, California's High Sierra, Virginia's Floyd Fest and Haymaker Fest, and North Carolina's Long running Smile Fest, the popular All Good Festival or at a venue in your town!

New Album "Projekt Management" out on Harmonized Records!