The Future Man Project
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The Future Man Project

Band Jazz R&B


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"On a Roll"

Mar. 3, 2004
Though his bright red-and-yellow custom drum set nearly hides his diminutive frame, this peewee-sized musical genius dwarfs both his drums and the talent of most adults.

Called a young Tony Williams, and compared with Alvin Jones and Stevie Wonder, Temple Hills resident Isaiah Durant Williams, 9, awed the audience with his prodigious drumming talent on Feb. 19 at The Rams Head in Annapolis. There ­ to the applause of those gathered ­ the young musician and his band, The Isaiah Williams Project, displayed his talent alongside Grammy award-winning drummer Royel "Futureman" Wooten.

Isaiah, whose father Drue Williams is the band's bass player, and whose uncle, James Dudley, plays keyboard, has just ended his "Age of Enlightenment Tour 2004" with Wooten, playing in 11 cities across the United States. The tour began Jan. 14 and ended Sunday.

"The Little Drummer Boy" has appeared on "Apollo Kids," "Jenny Jones" and WUSA 9-TV, as well as at the Lincoln Theatre and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Already, Isaiah has multiple endorsement deals.

In addition to his custom-made drum kit, he has Vater drumsticks with his name engraved on them. Sabian, HQ Percussion, Latin Percussion and Evans Drumheads are just a few of the other major instrument manufacturers that have provided some of his equipment.

All Daz in Capitol Heights, a clothing store, provides much of the gear that the band wore during the tour. All Daz owner Curtis Chambers said he's in it to support one of his own. "We thought it was important to support this young African-American boy drummer because we're a young company and we understand the need for that kind of support," he said.

Many fans ­ among them his father ­ say Isaiah's energy on the drums never seems to fade.

"We adults are all pretty tired with all of this touring and focus, but Isaiah loves this stuff and he shows no signs of wearing down," Drue Williams said.

Isaiah first played the drums before he could walk, Williams said.

"He was born to do this; he loves hotels and traveling and audience reaction to his playing," Williams added.

Musicians and family guiding Isaiah through his blossoming career have said they do not want to see him overwhelmed to the extent that he ceases to enjoy life as a child.

"We really want to make sure Isaiah stays a kid--stays focused on what's important in his life right now like school, his activities, his family and church," said Wooten.

Isaiah's parents also said they would not let the youngster, a fourth-grader at Middleton Valley Academy School in Temple Hills, do as much touring if his grades fall, though they think he would be miserable if he couldn't perform.

"I like the stuff I can do with the drums, the places I go to play and playing with famous people," said the dimpled 9-year-old. Though he never has had formal instruction in the art of drumming, Isaiah has jammed with jazz greats, among them Stanley Clarke, former Parliament and the Funkadelics drummer Dennis Chambers, and Bob Gatzen, who has sent him copies of music tapes and videos.

The youngest of four children ­ three of them girls ­ Isaiah was born into a talented family in November 1994. His sister Jalisa, 15, is a gifted dancer, his dad and uncle are musicians, and his mother, Janet Williams, is herself an accomplished singer in church.

In this nurturing environment, Isaiah was banging, accurately, to the beat of tunes on any surface he could find before his first birthday. He made his first public appearance at age 2 in a church talent show with his dad. He's also been taking dance lessons in Capitol Heights.

Wooten said he first spotted the kid's drumming talent at an international trade show in Nashville, Tenn., in 2002.

"What struck me the most was that at the tender age of only 8 years, Isaiah could consistently play with a group and was playing at a level ready to record," Wooten said.

Determined to make that happen, Wooten co-produced Isaiah's first CD, "Let the Kid Play," last summer. Drue Williams is seeking a distribution deal for this freshman effort that includes Isaiah's composition, "Feeling Good."

Likening him to Mozart, Wooten said, "When I hear young Isaiah Williams play the drums, I hear this same young brilliance of a young 8-year-old genius who is clearly playing and composing beyond his years."

Isaiah's family keep a watchful eye on their young genius, whose innocents and childish wonder they have successfully maintained while encouraging him to grow as an artist.

The family knows the current tour is a test of Isaiah's--and their--professional metal, and they want to make sure this is the right opportunity at the right time for the boy.

It's also become clear that Isaiah knows exactly what he wants out of his childhood experiences. "I want to be a rich and famous drummer who is real well-known for what I can do with my hands," the boy drummer said.

- Maryland Gazette


Still working on that hot first release.



Futureman comes from a rich musical background. He is best known for his work with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. The group includes mainstays Bela Fleck on banjo, Victor Wooten on bass, Jeff Coffin on sax and wind instruments, and Future Man on electronic and acoustic drums and percussion. The Flecktones have won three Grammy awards for their outstanding virtuosity in live performance. Their sound spans many musical genres and can be described as innovative, experimental, and unique.

Futureman follows his own musical path as well as an inventor, world class musician, and composer. His first invention was the Drumitar used extensively in the music of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, which allows him to replicate sounds of an entire contemporary drum kit with the movement of just a few fingers on a guitar shaped instrument. A further extension of this type of instrument continued in Futureman's work with the Zen Drum company in the development of an electronic drum specifically designed to work in harmony with the natural movements and proportions of the hands. As a design consultant on this project Futureman became more and more interested in the science of nature as revealed in the proportional ratios of the Golden Mean, also know as Phi. He further went on to work with Zen Drum in the development of a new keyboard called the Roy-el which integrates the melodic and rhythmic capabilities of the piano with his techniques and visions as a percussionist and a composer.

Futureman, as a composer, has worked extensively with the compositional software programs created by Dr. Wayne Kirby, particularly the tuning software program called Phi Music. Futureman has worked with Dr. Kirby and Dr. Greg Olson in the musical ensemble, Sons of Another Planet, as well as independently in multiple projects as the 18th century styled composer Royel under the title of Evolution d¹Amour.

In all of these creative journeys, Futureman seeks to compose music for the new century integrating electronic and acoustic instruments from traditions old and new and yet to be invented. For current info on Futureman and Royel, check and