Greg Williamson

jazz, Drum Set and Percussion Instructor

About

Greg Williamson is a jazz drummer, percussionist, composer, musical instigator, and keeper of a jazz flame. Williamson is an active educator and clinician. He is instructor of drum set and percussion at Western Washington University. He works regularly at Green River College, Bellevue College, and was the graduate jazz and percussion assistant at Central Washington University for two years. Greg holds a Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance and Jazz Pedagogy (CWU) and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies (WWU).

Early musical highlights include stints with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd (1988-89), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (1988) and The Harry James Orchestra. He toured many times with Steve Allen’s re-creation of the Tonight Show alongside classic entertainers like singers Joe Williams and Rosemary Clooney, pianist Paul Smith, comedians Louis Nye and Bill “Jose Jimenez” Dana, and others. Through the 1990’s Greg was often seen onstage leading and contracting with icons like Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, and Joan Rivers; and as a regular member and musical director for jazz vocalist Ernestine Anderson.

Williamson’s early influences included Count Basie and Thelonious Monk. Personal mentorships with jazz hero’s like Ray Brown, Mel Lewis, Buddy Catlett, Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton and Red Kelley set him up for a long association with Grammy nominated vocalist Ernestine Anderson. Starting as her drummer of choice for many tours of the United States, Japan and South America, and eventually acting as her musical director.

Mid 1990’s also saw the formation of Pony Boy Records, an independent record label made up of straight ahead jazz artists with a Northwest focus. PBR has over 60 releases to date, including CD’s by Williamson’s Big Bad Groove Society, GW Quartet, Pony Boy All-Star Big Band, Double Sax Quintet (listed in the Jazz Times Year in Review Critics Picks 2002), and many more. PBR is distributed worldwide by Burnside Distribution. Williamson produced the annual Pony Boy Records Jazz Picnic for 10 years, which won awards for contributions to the community by Earshot Jazz, and whose t-shirts still adorn the fans and musicians of the Northwest.

Williamson has been instrumental in the creation of a non-profit performance and education venue in North Bend, Washington, Boxley's and the Boxley's Music Fund – along with satellite venues, now collectively called JazzClubsNW. The non-profit venture has partnered with many community members, producing Jazz Walks, festivals, public concerts, and live recordings  – including Live at Boxley’s with the Danny Kolke Trio + Pete Christlieb.

Williamson's discography as a leader includes "Scenes and Voyages" and "Oo-Bop" with his quartet, "Conversations & Deconstructions" with the Pony Boy Large Ensemble, and "Swing Your Big Head" and "Live at Kellys - 10 years" with The Big Bad Groove Society. He has appeared on over 30 releases on Pony Boy Records, Atlantic Records, and Concord Jazz Japan.

In 2019, Williamson published the book "Jazz Traditions: A Collection of Drum Set Teaching"