Tony Williams who lived a full life of 92 years is considerd to be one of the legendary alto saxophonist who truly represented "The Sound Of Philadelphia". Born July 2nd, 1931; he was raised as a child in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Tony soon made it up north where he grew up outside of Philadelphia in Crestmont, Pennsylvania. Tony's full life of 92 years ended November 11th, 2023.
He grew up playing the horn as a youngster and soon found his love with the music. He played in school bands in high school (Abington High School) and later went to college at Tennessee A & I (presently known as Tennessee State University); played with their band and also was an outstanding sprinter on their track team. He transfered to Central State University in Ohio and hooked up with music and athletic opportunities there.
After graduating from Central State he spent time in the military as he found the way to also play in the 75th Army Band at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. Tony is a true educator as well as a great musician. He taught in the Philadelphia School System for over 25 years and retired after a period of teaching health & physical education, coaching and being a vice principal.
Music was always in Tony's blood, schedule and lifestyle. Tony Williams found a way to teach, coach, administrate and perform music professionally in the Philadelphia area as well as on the road nationally and internationally while teaching, coaching and administrating for over 25 years at Barrett Junior High School in South Philadelphia, Ada Lewis and Amy 6 in Germantown/Mt. Airy Philadelphia.
Tony had many opportunities to travel and play music full time on the road but Tony had a passion and love for his wife, Gloria and 3 children. Tony's family has been a strong part of the backbone and support of his music. Gloria had to be considered Tony's biggest supporter. Greg (Tony's oldest son) is the owner of BDG Records which is heavily involved in Tony's promotions. Antoinette (Tony's daughter) played a solid part behind the scenes in Tony's productions and engagements. Glenn (Tony's youngest son) is a gifted and talented saxophonist, pianist and recording artist.
Tony also had a passion to "keep jazz alive" so it was not enough for Tony just to be a professional musician. He had to give back and he did that in a way that can not be matched by many. Tony Williams started a jazz theory and music program in his school; Ada H. Lewis Middle School Jazz Band. Not long after, he started his own jazz theory and music program that is now known as the Mount Airy Cultural Center, Inc. which he is the founder and director. Link on to www.maccjazz.org to get more information about the Mount Airy Cultural Center, Inc.
There are well known musicians that came from those two programs that Tony Williams mentored and influenced. Some of them include James Lloyd, Curtis Harmon, Cedric Napolean (all from Pieces Of A Dream); Glenn Williams, Mark Mitchell, Joey DeFrancesco, Mark Henry, Leon Jordan, Leon Jordan, Jr., Duane Eubanks, Derrick Bush, Daryl Hall, Christian McBride, Pamela Williams and his son Glenn Williams just to name a few. Throughout the years, Tony and the Mount Airy Cultural Center has received a great amount of support from many volunteers and some of the surrounding areas finest musicians. Some of them include Sonny Hoxter, Tommy Grice, Joe Stevenson, Wesley Norton, Dr. Val Jennings, Don Wilson, Mark Mitchell, Mike Boone, Don "Doc" Collins, Craig McIver, Stan Wilson and Leon Jordan.
Tony Williams became a household name in the Philly area in the 60's as he played in the major jazz hot spots. He was in high demand to be the featured saxophonist in many bands. He connected with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff of Philadelphia International Records in the early 70's as he is featured on sax and flute on many of the Philly International's hits with MFSB, Billy Paul, Blue Magic, Intruders, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and the O'Jays.
"Straight Ahead Jazz" is Tony's love in the music genres. He formed his own groups and ensembles and has continued on in the profession of a jazz musician for over 50 years. He has recorded and/or performed with such jazz greats as Nat Adderley, Butch Ballard, Bootsie Barnes, Kenny Baron, Keter Betts, John Blake, Tyrone Brown, Randy Brecker, Jeannie Brooks, Ray Bryant, Suzanne Burgess, Donald Byrd, Tommy Campbell, Jean Carn, Lisa Chavous, Walter Clark, Fostina Dixon, Johnnie Coles,Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett, Bobby Durham, Kenny Gates, Aaron Graves, Eddie Green,Al Grey, Tommy Grice, Daryl Hall,Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Rob Henderson, Groove Holmes, Cissy Houston, Al Hirt, Roger Humphries, Al Jackson, Etta Jones, Leon Jordan, Miss Justine, James Lloyd, Junior Mance, Wynton Marsalis, Jim Martinez, Jimmy McGriff, Craig McIver, Larry McKenna, Dick Morgan, Wayne Morgan, Barbara Morrison, David "Fathead" Newman, Jimi Odell, Billy Paul, Trudy Pitts, Dave Posmontier, Gerald Price, Irene Reid, Charlie Rice, Mickey Roker, Shirley Scott, Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith, Wendy Simon, Gerald "Twiggiw" Smith", Lee Smith, Terell Stafford, Dakota Staton, Joe Stevenson,Lucky Thompson, Barbara Walker, Tim Warfield,Grover Washington, Jr., Ronnie Waters, Ronnie Wells, Joerg Widmoser, Claude Williams, Pearl Williams, Don Wilson, Jimmy Wood and Phil Wright.
Tony has been blessed to have some of the world's greatest jazz musicians as a part of his ensemble. The musicians that have primarily works as a part of the Tony Williams Quartet are Dave Posmontier, Aaron Graves, Mike Boone, Lee Smith, Craig McIver and Rob Henderson.
Tony also was a part of the Bill Cosby band on his TV show. He and Bill Cosby have stayed very close throughout the years as Bill Cosby performed annually as a part of the Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival with the Bill Cosby Reunion Band. Tony had the honor of re-uniting with the Bill Cosby Reunion Band in April (2010) at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia as Bill Cosby was honored as the recipient of the Marion Anderson Award.
to see the article about the Gala and a picture of Tony Williams with the reunion band.
Tony Williams has a recording career of his own as he has produced 2 signature albums of his own; "Thank GOD For Jazz" and "Homecoming".
Thank GOD For Jazz is a classic that includes some classic spirituals, jazz and patriotic standards, blues and originals. You can link on to www.cdbaby.com/williamstonyto view, listen to and order "Thank GOD For Jazz" which is on the BDG Records label.
Tony has also been promoted and represented by BDG as he is on 3 other BDG CD's; "AIDS Benefit Jazz", "All The Way Live", "The Best Of BDG".
Tony has traveled and toured throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has performed with many of the jazz greats in so many different musical events and jazz festivals. Internationally, Tony has performed on tour in Germany, Canada, Japan, Jamaica and the Virgin Islands.
Tony Williams has received hundreds of awards, proclamations and resolutions. Some of his distinguished honors include ...
Central State University Music Hall Of Fame Chattanooga Jazz Hall Of Fame BDG Records Community Award
Abington High School Music Hall Of Fame Mill Creek Jazz Award Mellon Jazz Award Pennsylvania House Of Representatives Man Of The Year Jimmy Blanton Jazz Award Germantown Historical Hall Of Fame Pieces Of A Dream Award Keeping Jazz Alive Award Art Without Boundaries Award Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award
2013 Clef Club Saxophonist Of The Year
2013 LaRose Living Legend Award
State Of Pennsylvania National Jazz Musician 2014
National Association Of University Women, Inc.
2014 Clef Club Jazz Award
2015 Ovations Award
2015 Philadelphia Association Of Black Sports & Culture Award
2015 Clef Club Jazz Award
2016 Clef Club Jazz Award
2019 Clef Club Jazz Award
2019 Still Standing South Philly Reunion Award
2019 Sharpnack Street 400 Block Jazz Legend Award
Tony is one of the few living legends that has a jazz festival named after him;
Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival. This annual 4 day festival is one of the more popular jazz events that takes place every Labor Day weekend. Link on to see ...
Bill Cosby and Tony Williams... with the Bill Cosby Reunion Band at LaRose Jazz Club
(January 22, 2018)
Tony Williams at his "Tony Williams Jazz Festival".
Tony Williams at his " Tony Williams Jazz Festival
Barbara Morrison with Tony Williams Tony Williams with Tommy Grice
Charlie Rice, Freddie Cole & Tony Williams Tony Williams, Dr. LaRose & Aspiring Students
Tony Williams performing with Michael Beckham & Dylan Taylor at the Jazz Bridge Allstar Festival
Tony Williams with Jafar Baron
Tony Williams & His Son,
Glenn Williams (saxophonist/pianist)
at LaRose Jazz Club
at Rodney Square
2015 Summer Stage Series
Tony relaxing before the show with ...
Greg Willams / producer; Tony's son (left photo)
Pyerce Oates / pianist (right photo)
Surprise 84th Birthday Bash
July 2nd, 2015
Tony walking in the front door of the
Platinum Grille ... "Surprise"
Tony saying "You got me" !!! "Doc" Collins blowing ...
Tony enjoying the moment going to get his sax
with his daughter "Toni"
and beautifying "Precious Lord" !!!
Norman Connors & Tony Williams (June 2015)
in between acts of their performances at the
2015 Clifford Brown Jazz Festival
2015 Ovation Award Winner
(Kimmel Center - Philadelphia)
Tony totally surprised hearing that he
was the Ovations Award winner.
Tony with Mark Mitchell (left photo)
and his son, Greg and daughter, Antoinette (right photo)
Bill Cosby ... conducting the Bill Cosby Reunion Band at the 2014 Tony Williams Jazz Fest
honored at the
Pennsylvania State Capital April 29th, 2014
by Senators & State Representatives for
National Jazz Month.
Stephen Kinsey & Jake Wheatly
with Tony Williams
Jazz Great Roger Humphries
(with Tony Williams)
was the co-honoree April 29th, 2014
at the Pennsylvania State Capitol.
at the Kimmel Center with
Larry McKenna & Bootsie Barnes
Aaron Graves & Tony Williams
*2012 Tony Williams Jazz Festival*
Tony Williams at the Comcast TV Studio for the "Holla Back" TV Show
2011 with Host, Pastor "D" Derrick Johnson & Co- Host, Cherise Monique
Pastor "D" & Tony Williams Tony Williams & Pastor "D"
Tony Williams & David Brown Tony Williams & Greg Williams
Tony Williams Tony Williams Ensemble at the at the 2010 2010 Clifford Brown Jazz Festival Clifford Brown Jazz Festival
Donald Byrd & Tony Williams
talking after the concert
Clifford Brown Jazz Fest
orchestrating and conducting the
Bill Cosby Reunion Band
at the 2009 Tony Williams Jazz Festival
David "Fathead" Newman & Grover Washington
1999 Tony Williams Jazz Festival
TONY WILLIAMS SCHOLARSHIP JAZZ FESTIVAL
The Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival
is an annual event that occured for 24 years.
This jazz festival brought in some of the finest jazz musicians from all over the world. It was a venue to highlight some of Philadelphia's renowned and well known musicians.
This festival has featured such greats as Gloria Lynn, Grover Washington, Jr., David "Fathead" Newman, Bill Cosby, John Blake, Joerg Widmoser, Claude Williams, Percy Heath, Tootie Heath, Albert Heath, Butch Ballard, Kenny Baron, Jimmy McGriff, Cissy Houston, Gerald Veasley, Barbara Morrison, Pieces Of A Dream, Darryl Hall, Farid Barron, Joey DeFrancesco, Bootsie Barnes, Gerald Price, Dick Morgan, Shirley Scott, Charlie Rice, Eddie Green, Tyrone Brown, Frank Bey, Trudy Pitts & Mr "C", Clifford Adams, Freddie Cole, Ray Bryant, James Moody, Tommy Grice, Walter Clark, Raye Jones, Don Wilson, Junior Mance, Dave Gibson, Larry McKenna,
Dave Posmontier, Verolga Nix, Intermezzo Choir,
Central State Univerisity Choir, Houston Person, Gerald Veasley,
and many many others.
SCHOLARSHIP JAZZ FESTIVAL
"Was Always About The Kids"
The Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival was endorsed, supported and promoted by the Council Of Jazz Advocates and BDG Enterprises.
The Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival wass sponsored and coodinated to provide college scholarships to selected students that have studied music and particpated in programs through the Mount Airy Cultural Center, Inc.
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Mount Airy Cultural Center, Inc.
is a progam and agency that evolved from other programs
Tony Williams spearheaded, founded and led.
This program is grounded from a 50 year grass root
initiative to use the music genre of jazz to build esteem
and provide extended outlets to youth to enrich their
inner soul, intellect and creativity through music.