Pianist/Composer Rod Williams was born in Detroit April 15, 1954 and studied with the great pianist Kenny Cox. In the summer 1981 he was playing with the Sam Sanders’ group “Visions” at the Detroit Jazz Center as an opening act for Air (Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall), Henry Threadgill strongly encouraged him to move to New York and in the fall of 1981, he did so, which is where he currently resides.
“Pianist-composer Rod Williams’ typically stimulating original “Home Sweet Home” opens his fine 1989 LP “Hanging in the Balance” (Muse). It would certainly be an appropriate piece for the Detroit-born Williams to include when he returns to the Motor City. Williams made his reputation working with a range of left-of-center voices, among them David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Dewey Redman and Lester Bowie. He has also proven to be an alert accompanist for vocalist Cassandra Wilson early in her career. But like most Detroiters, Williams retains an essential versatility, and there’s not much across the post-bop landscape you could throw at him that he can’t handle. His improvisations alternate between a scampering kind of percussive rumble with a smoother, more pianistic touch, and his compositions reveal a personal approach to melody and structure”( Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press June 17, 2015).
He will perform with two generations of Detroit Jazz musicians- Kasan Belgrave, Kayvon Gordon and Marion Hayden. He will also be celebrating his 64th birthday.