Happy Birthday Buster Williams

April 17, 1942

The Triumphant Dance of the Butterfly

Bassist Charles Anthony “Buster” Williams was born April 17, 1942 in Camden, New Jersey.

His father led band rehearsals for his own band in the family home. Hearing Oscar Pettiford perform “Star Dust” on a recording from his father’s record collection inspired Buster to pick up the bass.

As a kid in junior high, he was already filling in on gigs his father couldn’t make which is how he first started playing with established pros like Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt as a newly minted high school grad.

In demand as a sideman, he performed with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Mary Lou Williams, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae McCoy Tyner, Frank Foster, Stanley Turrentine, Illinois Jacquet, and was part of Herbie Hancock’s “Mwandishi Sextet.

In the early ’70s Williams began leading his own groups.

He played with Betty Carter in 1962 and toured Europe with Sarah Vaughan in 1963.

He worked more extensively with Nancy Wilson beginning in 1964 and appeared on several of her albums for Capitol Records, relocating to Los Angeles.

In addition to Wilson he worked with The Jazz Crusaders, the Harold Land/Bobby Hutcherson Quintet, and ultimately Miles Davis before heading back East to New York in 1968.

The Buster Williams Quartet performs live in Italy at Blue Note Milano on June 3, 2012.


Buster Williams, contrabass
Mark Gross, alto & soprano sax
Patrice Rushen, piano
Lenny White, drums