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Steve Williams

Steve Williams grew up in Washington, DC. He continued his music education at the University of Miami. There he joined Monty Alexander's band, with whom he started to perform on the international scene. He furthered his music education in New York, with Billy Hart. 

Back in Washington, Williams played with Milt Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Williams, Woodie Shaw, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, John Hicks, Larry Willis, Mulgrew Miller and many others. He joined Gary Thomas' band, with whom he recorded one of his first compositions, "Pads". 

Then he joined Shirley Horn, who would keep for twenty-five years the same rhythm section: Charles Ables (bass) and Steve Williams (drums). Critic Don Heckman wrote in the Los Angeles Times (February 2, 1995) about "the importance of bassist Charles Ables and drummer Steve Williams to the Horn's sound. Working with boundless subtlety, following her every spontaneous twist and turn, they were the ideal accompanists for a performer who clearly will tolerate nothing less than perfection". 

His music relationship with the pianist and singer gives him the opportunity to tour the world and record with such artists as Toots Thielemans, Branford Marsalis and Wynton Marsalis, Carmen McRae, Roy Hargrove and Miles Davis... 
After his long collaboration with Shirley Horn, Williams moved back to New York in 2006, where he studied with Michael Carvin. He performs among others with the Slagle/Stryker Band, Paul Bollenbach, Roni Ben Hur, Larry Willis, the John Hicks Legacy Band, Bill Saxton, Bob Mover, Sara Lazarus, Ben Vereen, Joe Lovano, Eddie Henderson... 
Famous for his refinement with Shirley Horn, he is also appreciated as a powerful and sensitive instrumentalist favoring the musical conversation. He pursues his music career with his own quintet, promoting original compositions by the band members. The quintet is internationally performing since 2206. Steve’s first album as the leader “New Incentive” is released in January 2007 with Olivier Hutman (p), Michael Bowie (b), Donvonte McCoy (t), and Antoine Roney (s). John Hicks, Gary Bartz and Roy Hargrove are guests. The press welcome this debut as a leader with great enthusiasm.


Nominated by Willard Jenkins (Downbeat, JazzTimes) for Best Debut Album in the 2007 Jazz Poll Ballots (the Village Voice)


Album Review

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Bernstein Reimagined

Read "Bernstein Reimagined" reviewed by Jack Bowers

This impressive anthology by the superb Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra is not so much Bernstein Reimagined as Bernstein Unleashed. The jazz component in Leonard Bernstein's memorable compositions for symphony orchestra, Broadway shows, films and even liturgical works always lay simmering just below the surface. As Bernstein is said to have confided to Duke Ellington: “Maybe that's really the difference between us. You write symphonic jazz, and I write jazz symphonies." However credible the remark, there is no doubt that the ...


Steve Williams: Explaining A Drummer's Role

Read "Steve Williams: Explaining A Drummer's Role" reviewed by Matt Merewitz

A career sideman to Washington's own, the legendary singer-pianist Shirley Horn, fellow DC- native drummer Steve Williams has been around the proverbial jazz block and is here to tell you a bit about his ride.

Williams has a jovial air that shows he's unmistakably joyous about living life. But there are issues that come to light in this interview, revealing what irks him. For instance - the typecasting and discrimination against drummers by fans, other musicians and the press, and ...

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Grand session
Along its young history , jazz distributed a few titles of nobility: we had a king (Nat “King” Cole), a duke (Duke Ellington) and a count (Count Basie). Not to mention a few dozens of musicians without any title but who could have claimed one. In the aristocracy of jazz, the drummer Steve Williams is, without any doubt, a kind of country squire, a musician without estate, always serving the others. But he acquired his titles of nobility serving the greatest, and in particular the queen Shirley Horn. It is only now that he delivers, at 50, his first record as a leader

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Primary Instrument



New York City

Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Blue Heaven

Cellar Live


New Incentive



Dream With Me

From: Bernstein Reimagined
By Steve Williams



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