"Greg Williamson provides supple, swinging underpinnings." - Jazz Steps
"Williamson drives with a big band energy." - Cadence Review
"Capturing a groove and sticking with it, a nimble rhythm section... how could you miss?" -Jazz Times
"High on the rhythmic and melodic slam-o-meter... with lushness and rich lustre."- The Rocket
"His enthusiasm is infectious... something very special." - Earshot Jazz
Earshot Jazz cover story, January 2007
music: big bad groove society | double sax quintet | gw quartet | pony boy all -star big band
discography | main page | teaching studio pdf |
book: Jazz Traditions- A Collection of Drum Set Teaching
BIO - The Short Version
Greg Williamson is a jazz drummer, percussionist, composer, musical instigator, and keeper of a jazz flame. Early musical highlights include stints with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd (1988-89), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (1988) and The Harry James Orchestra. He toured many times with Steve Allen’s re-creation of the Tonight Show alongside classic entertainers like singers Joe Williams and Rosemary Clooney, pianist Paul Smith, comedians Louis Nye and Bill “Jose Jimenez” Dana, and others. Through the 1990’s Greg was seen often onstage leading and contracting with icons like Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, and Joan Rivers; and as a regular member of jazz vocal icon Ernestine Anderson.
Williamson’s early influences included Count Basie and Thelonious Monk. Personal mentorships with jazz hero’s like Ray Brown, Mel Lewis, Buddy Catlett, Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton and Red Kelley set him up for a long association with Grammy nominated vocalist Ernestine Anderson. Starting as her drummer of choice for many tours of the United States, Japan and South America, he eventually acted as her musical director.
Mid 1990’s also saw the formation of Pony Boy Records, an independent record label made up of straight ahead jazz artists with a Northwest focus. PBR has over 60 releases to date, including CD’s by Williamson’s Big Bad Groove Society, GW Quartet, Pony Boy All-Star Big Band, Double Sax Quintet (listed in the Jazz Times Year in Review Critics Picks 2002), and many more. PBR is distributed worldwide by Burnside Distribution. Williamson produced the annual Pony Boy Records Jazz Picnic for 10 years, which won awards for contributions to the community by Earshot Jazz, and whose t-shirts still adorn the fans and musicians of the Northwest.
Williamson has been instrumental in the creation of a non-profit performance and education venue in North Bend, Washington, Boxley's and the Boxley's Music Fund – along with satellite venues, now collectively called JazzClubsNW. The non-profit venture has partnered with many community members, producing Jazz Walks, festivals, public concerts, and live recordings – including Live at Boxley’s with the Danny Kolke Trio + Pete Christlieb.
Williamson has also been an active educator and clinician, working at Green River College and Bellevue College, and recently at the highly regarded Central Washington University as a graduate jazz and percussion assistant, gaining masters degrees in Percussion Performance and Jazz Pedagaogy.
HISTORY - the long version
Greg Williamson began playing drums and piano at an early age, listening to the record collection of his parents, always returning to that curious double live LP by Thelonious Monk. His mother still takes credit for bringing him - at an age less than one year - to concerts of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong in 1965. By the time he hit high school, ha had won several college festival awards. In 1986 he gained a degree in jazz studies from Western Washington University, also studying classical percussion & composition. During this time he played many musicals, big band shows, local gigs, and was principal percussion, timpanist and clinician with the Seattle Youth Symphony.
Big Bad Groove @ Jazz Alley
w/ Ernestine @ Concord Jazz Festival
Jazz Times Year in Review
IAJE w/Jeff Hamilton &
Playing Cymbals in Tokyo
Jazz Educators say nice things:
"A wonderful, knowledgeable
clinician, a pleasure to work with... excellent results from his rhythm
section work with IAJE's National Community College Jazz Ensemble."
"Greg has an extensive background
and knowledge in big band drumming and is able to communicate it to
younger rhythm section players. Very professional and enjoyable to work
"Thanks for helping out my
rhythm section, we did great in our last festival contest... a real
thrill for the kids!"
photo gallery - old and
click a photo for larger size