David "Happy" Williams blends Jazz and Pan



The joint was jumpin’ last weekend (10-12 October), as the Lincoln Center welcomed jazz virtuoso David “Happy” Williams and the J’Ouvert Band.


The performance was a seamless blend of classic jazz with the scintillating sounds of Trinidad’s steel pan.  The renowned bass violinist lived up to his nickname as he playfully lead his audience on a musical excursion to the Caribbean.


The show was part of the Lincoln Center’s season-long celebration of “the year of the drum,” concert series.


For those who attended, it was clear that after over four decades in the business, Williams still enjoys weaving melodic webs of sheer bliss.  “How could you not when you're dealing with music this sweet” said Williams gleefully, during a recent interview.


Williams, the son of legendary jazz singer and world renowned jazz bassist, John “Buddy” Williams, studied the violin at the ripe young age of six, before playing the upright bass at age 12.


For Williams, music was not merely a source of entertainment; it defined a way of life that helped to mold the artist he is today.  “My home was almost like a school for me.” said Williams.  “My sister was a pianist, so there was always music going on in the home.”


Although he got a few pointers from his father, it was under the tutelage of Arthur Carroll, where he gained mastery over the bass violin. His Moroccan inspired solo, which enraptured his audience last Friday serves as prime evidence.


However, Williams is quick to point out that the road to mastery had its share of bumps.  “The violin is a difficult instrument to get a perfect sound,” said Williams.  “If your inclination is slightly off the sound can be very disturbing.”


Studying at the London College of Music since 1962 and receiving private lessons from jazz icon, Ron Carter, Williams was able to confidently step onto the musical world stage, and his life has never been the same since.


Williams has worked with Hugh Masekela, Ornette Coleman, Roberta Flack and Jermaine Jackson.  One of his biggest surprises was when he worked with Coleman.


“I found out how brilliant he was, I thought  he couldn’t play a straight melody before I worked with him but he was great,” said Williams of the sax abstractionist.




 You can E-mail the writer at  AdikaButler@yahoo.com









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Last modified: October 21, 2002