Matt Fisher: Tony Williams - So What 1964 transcription and analysis

Matt Fisher: Tony Williams - So What 1964 transcription and analysis

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Tony Williams was just 19 when he played drums with the Miles Davis Quintet at a concert on February 12, 1964 at New York's Philharmonic Hall alongside Miles, George Coleman, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter. That evening's music was released on two LPs Four and More and My Funny Valentine, later to be reissued on CD as The Complete Concert: My Funny Valentine and Four and More. Williams' playing on this album perfectly illustrates how he redefined the role of a drummer in a jazz ensemble, setting a new benchmark for all drummers thereafter. One of the most exciting tracks is the Quintet's up-tempo version of So What on which Tony Williams' drumming constantly probes, suggests, responds and surprises with superb technical mastery and creativity.

In this book Matt Fisher offers, for the first time, a full notated transcription of Tony Williams' drum part from So What, together with an in-depth analysis. He breaks down some of the central characteristics of Williams' drumming and illustrates how the concept of rhythmic tension and release is used to apply these features during his interaction with the rest of the ensemble - including one of Williams' most distinctive features; his use of the dotted quarter note cross-rhythm. Tony Williams - So What (1964) is a valuable addition to the literature of jazz drumming and will be of interest to all players from the student to the experienced professional performer.

  • Features a notated transcription of Tony Williams' complete drum part on So What from the Miles Davis Quintet’s 1964 live recording.
  • Includes a complete rhythmic transcription Herbie Hancock’s piano comping
  • Analyses the central characteristics of Williams’ drumming on So What
  • Illustrates his use of the concept of rhythmic tension and release during his interaction with the rest of the ensemble
  • Will be of interest to all players from the student to the experienced professional.

Book, comb-bound, 40 pages

This title is also available on our digital sheet music store.

Praise for this book

The transcription is a brilliant piece of work and I would recommend it to any drummer wishing to examine Tony Williams’ style.
- Roger Odell - drummer, founder member of Shakatak


This will be invaluable to those who are familiar with Tony Williams’ playing as well as those who come new to it. For both it leads to a better understanding of modern style proactive and interactive jazz drumming and rhythm section playing, which underpins so much of contemporary jazz.
John Marshall - drummer, Soft Machine Legacy

In performance the jazz drummer’s main function is as an accompanist, complementing and stimulating one’s fellow musicians. Matt Fisher’s book provides an excellent example of some of the elements of Tony Williams’ approach to this role. A bonus is the rhythmic transcription of Herbie Hancock’s piano comping, a transcription task I set for my own students. For drummers who have little experience of “comping” transcriptions, this publication will be of value in this important aspect of their musical development and inspire them to transcribe and discover the different comping characteristics of other great jazz drummers such as Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes and Elvin Jones.
Trevor Tomkins - drummer, Professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London