Tony Williams is a legendary alto saxophonist who truly represents "The Sound Of Philadelphia". Born and raised as a child in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Tony soon made it up north where he grew up outside of Philadelphia in Crestmont, Pennsylvania. 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) and played with their band. He transfered to Central State University in Ohio and hooked up with music 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 period 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 for over 20 years at Barrett Junior High School in South 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 has 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, Stan Wilson and Leon Jordan.
TONY'S MUSIC CAREER 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, Keter Betts, John Blake, Tyrone Brown, Ray Bryant, Donald Byrd, Tommy Campbell, Jean Carn, Johnnie Coles, Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett, Bobby Durham, Eddie Green, Al Grey, Tommy Grice, Daryl Hall, Lionel Hampton, Groove Holmes, Al Jackson, Etta Jones, Leon Jordan, Junior Mance, Jim Martinez, Jimmy McGriff, Craig McIver, Dick Morgan, Barbara Morrison, David "Fathead" Newman, Jimi Odell, Trudy Pitts, Gerald Price, Irene Reid, Charlie Rice, Lee Smith, Terell Stafford, Dakota Staton, Gerald Price, Billy Paul, Jean Carn, Wendy Simon, Junior Mance, Mickey Roker, Shirley Scott, Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith, Tim Warfield, Grover Washington, Jr., Ronnie Wells, Joerg Widmoser, Claude Williams, Phil Wright and Cissy Houston.
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 worked as a part of the Tony Williams Quartet are Don Wilson (deceased) , 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 performs 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 this past 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 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 BDG Enterprises Community 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.
to see excerps from the Thank GOD For Jazz Worship Service
of the 2013 Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Fest.
TONY WILLIAMS SCHOLARSHIP JAZZ FESTIVAL
The Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival
is an annual event that has taken place for 21 years.
This annual jazz festival has brought in some of the finest jazz musicians from all over the world. It has also been 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, Yorg 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, Don Wilson, Junior Mance, Dave Gibson, Larry McKenna,
Dave Posmontier, Verolga Nix, Intermezzo Choir,
Central State Univerisity Choir, Houston Person and many many others.
SCHOLARSHIP JAZZ FESTIVAL
"It's All About The Kids"
The Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival is endorsed, supported and promoted by the Council Of Jazz Advocates and BDG Enterprises.
This 23rd annual Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival is 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.
"The Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival
is all about the young people."
Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival Committee
The entire festival will take place at the Philadelphia Airport Embassy Suites 9000 Bartram Ave. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19153 (215) 365-4500
Look out for the information on the 2014 Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival.