Jay Williams
by Bonnie Schendell
As noted in many other On the Side articles on SmoothViews, the Washington, DC area has an abundance of in-demand, talented musicians.  We are blessed.  And what that means for music aficionados is that when headliners come to town and draft these guys and gals into their East Coast band for a tour, we get to experience new people and a new take on music.  This month, SmoothViews is pleased to feature drummer extraordinaire, Jay Williams.

Jay is originally from Washington, DC and still makes it his home.  At three years old is when he started in on the drums, and while others sometimes say that the instrument picked them, Jay feels differently.  “I think I picked the drums. I was very fascinated by the drummers I saw playing at an early age.”  Like a great deal of other artists, Jay got his start at church.  “My whole family at home was, and still is, involved in church.  My Dad was an organist and my sister sings.  I am the only musician who ventured out to different styles of music.”  But unlike some artists who have a stellar reputation and made a name for themselves, Jay never forgets where he came from and loves to give back.  “When I’m home, I’m always playing in church. That’s my favorite musical situation. God gave me my talent and I do all I can to give it back to him.”

Jay credits his Dad as his first musical influence, but his cousin was the drummer who first got him hooked.  As the years passed, Jay taught himself the drums, without any formal training, and relies on his ears to do his job.  He says that he can read basic music charts but doesn’t consider himself a chart reader.  In addition to the drums, Jay also plays a little bass, and like many of our previously featured side musicians, names Sting and Phil Collins as artists he would like to play with one day. 

Jay is in high demand these days and has travelled a long road to get where he is now.  Jay notes that getting to this point in his career was sort of the trickle down effect. “From a recommendation, I got to work with Will Downing.  From that, I started working with Gerald Albright. The bass player with Gerald also plays with Lee Ritenour, so he recommended me for that! I subbed for a good friend of mine, Eric Valentine, with Jonathan Butler, which gave me the opportunity to work with Dave Koz!  So that’s sort of how things happened.  It’s all about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.”  Jay has also played with George Duke, Bob James, and many others.
Like many who start their careers as side musicians and are happy to support the headliner, Jay is breaking into the headliner spot with a CD of his own, slated to be released this spring.  “My CD project consists of some feel good music that the normal listener can enjoy.  The project is mostly instrumental with a gospel inspirational base. The project features Gerald Albright, Kevin Whalum, bassist Melvin Davis, and many other great musicians and friends. I actually did a little singing my self. I own my recording gear, so all of the drums and some of the other tracks were recorded in my studio.”

When not on the road with the many artists he backs up, Jay can be found spending time with his family. “I make it a routine to take my daughter to the latest child movie when I arrive home from out of town.  I rarely play locally so I can spend more time with family when home.”

Be sure to be on the lookout for Jay as he’s pounding out the grooves for many of your favorite artists these days, and be sure to watch for his debut CD to be released over the next few months.

© 2004 - 2019 www.smoothviews.com
All Rights Reserved
Website Deisgn by Warehouse33.com