BIO - The Short Version
Greg Williamson, drummer, percussionist and composer, has toured as a member of the swinging big bands of Woody Herman, Glenn Miller and Harry James. He has appeared on over 30 CDs, including the recent "JazzIn It" by singer Dee Daniels, which charted #1 across Canada. He travelled several years with Steve Allen and Tonight Show Live with legendary pianist Paul Smith. He has performed with Seattle's own and widely renown vocalist Ernestine Anderson since 1991, acting in later years as her musical director. He has led his own groups ranging from Greg Williamson Quartet to the Pony Boy All-Star Big Band, and recently formed an organ-quartet "The Young Lizards" bringing jazz sounds to the alt-club scene. He also focuses on large scale multi-media projects, including the award winning "Conversations & Deconstructions" the "1909 AYP - Jazz Music For Seattle's World's Fair." Greg's early experiences came from hanging out with the cats on the scene - legendary jazzers like Buddy Catlett, Ray Brown, Red Kelly, Bill Ramsay and Jay Thomas. In 1994 he founded Pony Boy Records which has produced 40 releases, the annual Pony Boy Records Jazz Picnic, and the weekly series Jazz & Sushi. He is the musical director Pony Boy Records is for Boxley's Jazz Club in North Bend, WA, which features music nightly, and hopes to continue to foster jazz music, and hang out with the cats on the scene.
BIO - The Long Version
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.
Woody, Glenn & Harry
While in college, he also began hanging out and mentoring with jazz
Hamilton and Mel Lewis - and bassists John Clayton
and Ray Brown, soaking up the lineage of jazz. Relocating to
Los Angeles, he was very quickly touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra,
then Woody Herman's Young Thundering Herd, and then the Harry
James Orchestra. Greg counts these years of road band experience and performing behind guest artists as priceless
and immeasurable. Wonderful people like Rosemary Clooney, The
Mills Brothers, Anita O'Day, Helen Forest, Helen
O'Connell, Art Lund, and others.
Big Bad Groove @ Jazz Alley
Seattle & Big Bad Groove
In 1990 he returned to Seattle as a home base, and continued to do occasional
tours while bursting into the fertile Seattle music scene. He began
groups of his own, drawing on some of the fine musicians from his road
band associations. The Big Bad Groove Society
is a sextet with flexible horn instrumentation for which he also writes
and arranges, tapping into the big band sound with a small group flexibility.
The group included friend and Ernestine Anderson pianist Larry Fuller
(later to join Jeff Hamilton's Trio & Ray Brown's Trio).
w/ Ernestine @ Concord Jazz Festival
Ernestine & Steve-a-rino
He also began performing, touring and recording with jazz singer, Downbeat
Poll winner, and Grammy nominated vocalist Ernestine Anderson. Still working with Ernestine,
he has toured Japan numerous times, Brazil, and all around the US .
Several years later he also began working with legendary pianist and
funnyman Steve Allen, doing night club dates, big band shows,
Las Vegas showrooms, and a revival of the original "Tonight
Show" - a touring ensemble including Louis Nye and Bill
"Jose Jimenez" Dana, working with the great pianist Paul
Smith, a veteran of Ella Fitzgerald, CBS Orchestra, and many others.
This again gave more opportunities for performing with the great stars
of jazz, swing, and film. Joe Williams, Steve & Edie,
Buddy Grecco, and more. His collective "played with"
list is extensive.
Jazz Times Year in Review
Critics Picks 2002
Pony Boy Records
The release of a Big Bad Groove Society
recording in 1994 saw the formation of Pony Boy Records, an affable
moniker for promotion and distribution. The title "Live at Kellys"
became the first of many live recordings at the home club of bassist
and raconteur Red Kelly. Red became a personal link to many of
the characters of 50's big bands' heyday - the same big bands which
Greg had played 30 years later.
Pony Boy Records, a label for the fun of jazz, became immediately popular.
With other musicians of like mind wanting to be part of the "stable
of artists", Pony Boy has grown to more than 30 releases, including
Williamson's highly regarded "Swing Your Big Head"
enhanced-CD, and his new "Double Sax
Quintet" - listed in the Jazz Times Year in Review Critics
Picks 2002 (Top Ten - Harvey Siders). He also leads the highly stabled
Pony Boy All-Star Big
Greg's development of skills in graphic arts, promotion, and digital
audio recording/mastering has allowed Pony Boy Records to help jazz
artists with the tools of music. Live performance is the target of the
effort - promoting concerts, tours and gigs.
Play Jazz - Tour - Swing Hard
Greg played many yearswith Brian Nova, a swinging guitarist and protégé
of jazz legends Herb Ellis and Joe Pass. This group toured
extensively, including month-long annual trips through Japan. The group
performed with other great artists, including rock and blues superstar
Steve Miller. Greg also spent several years with Sinatra-style
wise guy HB Radke,
performing for swooning swing-dancers, national sports crowds, and even
as a personality on national shock-jock radio with Tom Leykis. Altogether
Greg has appeared on more than 40 CDs, and can often be heard backing
up a variety singers and jazzers up and down the west coast.
IAJE 2002 w/Jeff Hamilton &
Greg has continued to teach drums and jazz privately and in clinics,
focusing on musicality and the lineage of big band and jazz. His technique
is relaxed and natural, bouncing the stick to get a warmth of sound
from good instruments, digging on time and feel. He draws from stories
and experience of drummers and musicians before him - and draws comparisons
to some classical technique.
He participated in the 2002 International Association of Jazz Educaters
Convention and coached the National Community College Jazz Ensemble
rhythm section. He enjoys clinics and rehearsing school groups; imparting
his sense of joy of music to students; and the drive, dance, and texture
available to performers of all kinds.
Playing Cymbals in Tokyo
Greg Williamson endorses and plays Garcia snare drums. He is an artist for Cymbal Masters' Crescent Cymbals, the company formerly behind Bosphorus
Cymbals (Hammer & Master Series). He also uses several different
Gretsch drum sets, vintage 1980's with DW hardware. Moving from calf-skin
heads, he now employs several Remo variations. Sticks and brushes from
RegalTip (Hamilton and Elvin), and Hinger Timpani mallets. He uses
Digidesign Pro Tools on the road and in the studio, with Waves plug-ins,
as well as many Macintosh hardware products.
>>Back to Pony
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."
- Doug Reid - Director IAJE CCJE, Shoreline CC
"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
- Susie Jones - Jazz Band Director, Mt. Hood CC
"Thanks for helping out my
rhythm section, we did great in our last festival contest... a real
thrill for the kids!"
- Greg Schroeder - Director Canyon Park School