The legendary saxophonist and composer Steve Williamson has been hailed as "one of the most distinctive saxophone voices in contemporary British jazz". He began playing the saxophone at just 16 and played in reggae bands such as Misty in Roots before studying at London's Guildhall School of Music in 1984.
In 1990, Williamson released his first album A Waltz for Grace followed by the release of Rhyme Time just two years later and his third album Journey To Truth, released in 1994. At that time Steve was close to Steve Coleman, the instigator of the M-Base movement and Steve’s albums brought together elements of funk, hip hop as well as jazz. His own playing continued to display the inventiveness and unique sound that were a feature of his playing with The Jazz Warriors, formed in the mid-1980s.
In the 1990s Steve hooked up with Art Blakey and became an ‘honorary’ member of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He did a week with the band and even interviewed him for Channel 4. In the same period Steve also toured in the USA with Donald Byrd and his Jazzamatazz band, and did guest spots with Gil Scott-Heron and Ali Farka Toure.
In a recent interview in Jazzwise (May 2019) Steve talks of his admiration for Blakey’s ability to mentor young players. The Jazz Messengers had begun in the 1950s and continued until Blakey’s death in 1990, and throughout those years Blakey mentored great players such as Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan and the Marsalis brothers.