Episode 20 of the Burning Ambulance podcast features an interview with bassist Buster Williams.
Buster Williams is a jazz MVP like very few others. He got his start in the late Fifties; his first studio dates were in 1961, with Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, and he’s appeared on literally hundreds of records since. When I was researching this interview, I was going through his catalog on Discogs, and as you’ll hear, there are a whole bunch of albums he did in the Sixties that they don’t even have listed. He’s played with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, the Jazz Crusaders, and a bunch of different singers. He’s played bass on so many records, he’s even on some where a different bassist is the leader – he’s made a couple of albums with Ron Carter. He doesn’t record very often as a leader, but when he does the music is always fantastic. The reason he stays in the back is, he really views his role as a supportive member of the ensemble to be crucial. He’s trying to provide a bottom end, and feed harmonies to the horns and the piano, and especially a singer. What he has to say about working with singers in this interview really fascinated me, and I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I did.
I’m gonna be honest, I really feel like I learned a tremendous amount about how jazz works by talking to Buster Williams. I can’t read music, I can’t really play any instruments, but I found what he had to say about how a group should work together, and what his role is, extremely enlightening, and it’s probably going to change the way I listen going forward. I’m thrilled I had the opportunity to have this conversation with him, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to it.