In a career spanning four decades drummer Jeff Williams' musical associates have included Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman and Lookout Farm, Joe Lovano, Paul Bley, Bill McHenry, Ethan Iverson, Tony Malaby, and many more. During the 1990's Jeff performed with his own quintet and released two CDs of original compositions: Coalescence (SteepleChase) and Jazzblues (Cathexis). Since 2007 he has been based both in New York and London. In the UK Jeff has performed with Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, and has toured with McHenry, Konitz, the Phil Robson/Dave Liebman Quartet, and Martin Speake's Change of Heart (with Bobo Stenson). Jeff has also collaborated with The Hans Koller Quartet, Sextet and Big Band, Mike Gibbs Big Band, Nikki Iles, Kit Downes, Olie Brice, Alex Bonney, Alex Merritt, Barry Green and more.
"This had been an excellent show, occasionally poignant but more often highly exciting with some exceptional playing all round. However it was Williams intelligent writing and perceptive prompting from behind the kit that set the tone for the performance."
In New York Jeff performs with his US Quartet featuring Duane Eubanks, John O'Gallagher and John Hébert The group toured the United Kingdom in May 2012 and recorded TheListener, recently selected among The Best CDs of 2013 byAll About Jazz C. Michael Bailey's Best Recordings of 2013
Published: December 11, 2013
"It may be a poor- man's explanation, but here it goes: bebop begat hard bop begat the freer post-bop. Free jazz emerged among them. What next? Jeff Williams' The Listener. The greater freedom of post bop compared to its predecessor is given more freedom, but not so much that the music descends into the ravenous particles of John Coltrane In Japan (Impulse!, 1973)."
The Listener is a logical extension of its two-years-older studio sibling, but it's not the same; these four men have extended the boundaries of their own work and strengthened the connective tissue that binds them. Williams' work with this quartet is special and deserves continued exploration." -All About Jazz
"The Listener's cutting-edge expertise and unwavering emphasis on improvisation makes this thoroughly contemporary music...It's a set of hot-and-cool Ornette Colemanesque themes, hip postbop and slow-burn reflections performed, on this live recording, by Williams' New York quartet." 4 Stars, The Guardian
"The Listener is not merely a throwback to Coleman in the way that the Black Crowes is to the Faces and Rolling Stones; rather it is the acknowledgement and development of an idea after the white-heat of its creation has cooled...Exceptional sonics and creative comaraderie." All About Jazz
"Music that seethes with intelligence, creativity and zest. This is a glorious record, varied, full of subtleties and surprises. Remember those days when you were in a record shop and your heard a track that was a must-buy and you couldn't rest until you had the CD. The Listener is like that." Jazz Views
"The Listener is filled with long stretches of rewarding moments, from the interplay of a snappy rhythm to heartfelt ballads. Jeff Williams supplies the majority of the tunes and the heartbeat that makes this program shine." Step Tempest
"The Listener is an exhilarating live set lead by drummer Jeff Williams. The tunes, most of which are penned by Williams, lend themselves to the sparse instrumentation of drums, bass, trumpet and saxophone, with tight, jagged themes and buoyant rhythms; a harmonic middle is not at all missed." The Jazz Word
"The composing is excellent, working piece by piece to build the record into something special. It's formal in terms of band discipline and yet somehow informal as the style is, if you like, a satire on society, an outsider's music." 4 Stars Marlbank
"Recorded live at London's Vortex Jazz Club, and the electricity from a live performance comes through loud and clear. Top-shelf jazz." Emusic
"The Listener features a piano-less quartet full of spiky lyricism and front-line duels." 4 Stars The Financial Times
"The drummer has taken his time develping what has become a distinctively independent and personal muse, but it's been worth the wait." 4 Stars The Guardian (live review)
"Veteran drummer Jeff Williams further cements his reputation as a serious and substantial player on his second WWR release The Listener." Jazz UK
"Williams is at the height of his powers after 40 years of working with so many jazz greats, from Stan Getz to Dave Liebman. This album takes the tradition onwards, with gifted musicians whose cutting-edge solos show how intently they're listening to each other. And now we're listening too." London Jazz News
"Jeff Williams sensitive cymbals and light-touch pulse reflect four decades of drumming with the high and mightly; on this live recording from London's Vortex he takes on the tricky territory of a piano-less quartet whose original thematic material stands mid-way between Ornette Coleman's boppier lines and the lyrical side of Don Cherry. He gets the balance between bustle and control just right. His skitter of brushes and double-time swing on Fez is an understated highlight." Jazzwise magazine
"Four disciplined players at the height of their abilities who really delve excitingly into the freer end of the spectrum while not straying far from a very tight harmonious feel." The Jazz Breakfast
"This is an excellent band and the musicianship is impeccable throughout." 4 Stars The Jazz Mann
"Superb...fiery brand of free bop-edged jazz." Time Out London
Recommended New Release for June 2013 Drummer Magazine
"Jeff Williams has honed a sound that seamlessly blends a sinewy, propulsive rhythmic sense with a masterful appreciation of space and atmosphere. On Another Time, Williams leads a remarkable group through a series of original compositions that are prefect vehicles for the veteran drummer's singular approach, as well as the quartet's consistently inspired improvisations." --Matthew Miller The New York City Jazz Record
**** "...The ease of movement between ambiguously floating rhythms and snappy polyrhythmic swing is seductive...these elegantly intricate deliberations make for absorbing contemporary jazz." --John Fordham The Guardian