Manny Williams who was my musical partner for over forty years passed away on June, 2, 2012. He was a beautiful person and contributed much music to the community he served in the relationship we had, playing jazz and the most outstanding standards of the day. It was endless, the music we contributed and created, and I want to just tell you a little bit of our journey together.
Many would say that Manny Williams and I were joined at the hip, that is probably true.
He and I started making music when we were 16…17 years old.
We were asked to perform at a church function in Roxbury MA at St. Richard’s Church. From then on we were playing off and on together.
Both of us joined the service at different times and did not see each other until several years later, when we found ourselves on a public transportation bus (MBTA) together. We decided to join each other to try and make some music and we stayed together for over forty years.
Our musical journey in many cases included, drummer, Reid Jorgensen who joined Manny and I along with bassist, Billy Hill, in that original trio.
From the TV performance on WGBH in 1968, until now there were incredible musical moments, and over the years as we grew as a major Boston band, we enjoyed and treasured each moment that included recordings like You Go To My Head, and When The Morning Comes, and concerts and club dates as we expanded and decreased the band accordingly to accommodate the music that we performed.
Manny was instrumental in every circumstance to continue to be the major force in all the music we produced over the years. His concepts and individual voicings on piano were what I needed to create the music and vocals that I performed. We worked very hard to create the music we performed, but it was easy because we understood what the final outcome
When we came back together after being away from the band to produce the Billy Strayhorn Project, it was a delightful time. That music, those compositions were very special to us and spiritual. It was time for us to do it. You cannot understand unless you were involved. It was a blessing for us to play and record that music. I had a twenty year involvement finding the material, but when I recorded it I understood that this was an important part of my life and I never regretted the journey we took in performing Strayhorn. Manny Williams was instrumental in providing his special kind of playing on that record.
For sure, I am left with the memories of my friend and musical partner, and as I enjoy every recording that I listen to and all the nuances that are in them, I will also enjoy the memory of who he was as a person, a brilliant man, quiet, softspoken and vibrant in all the music that he enjoyed from the masters he appreciated and the time he spent with all of us.
R.I.P., my friend.