Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Profiling jazz bassist Buster Williams

Buster Williams, Newport 1988
The March issue of Hot House magazine is out. Its features include my profile of bassist Buster Williams, who brings his quartet Something More into Manhattan’s Smoke jazz club at the end of the month. This extraordinary musician has worked with a very long list of jazz giants over the past 55 years. (Her went on the road with saxophonist Sonny Stitt at age 17). 

He talked extensively about the fine art of making jazz, which he described as “living in the realm of danger.” Not all of his perspective fit into the profile’s word limit. So here is a bit more to savor: 

“The greatest thing about living in this dangerous world of creativity is like painting a billboard when you are on a scaffold. You don’t have time to step back and rest on your laurels. In fact, if you are on that scaffold, you’d better not step back too far. I’m continually striving to best myself. It is not something that comes from ego or competitiveness, other than the fact that it is a natural responsibility or dictation of my willingness or effort to be creative.” 

“Everything begins with sound. The whole creation of this universe began with sound. The whole essence of being begins with sound. The Buddhism that I practice is built on the sound (chant) Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. This sound is everything and this sound is the basis for all creativity and everything that is going to be part of this entity. The way I sound when I hit one note on the bass is the determining fact of everything. If I can get that right, then I can work on everything else, but I’ve got to get that sound right first. We can’t take it for granted at any time. That sound is also the result of my outlook. I have to always be aware of myself so I can give justice to the sound in my head.”

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