Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
A superior bop pianist influenced by Bud Powell, Claude Williamson has been busy playing on the West Coast since the 1950s. The older brother of trumpeter Stu Williamson, Claude started on piano when he was seven and had ten years of classical piano lessons, also studying at the New England Conservatory. Williamson's first major musical job was with Charlie Barnet's orchestra in 1947. This was followed by stints with Red Norvo (1948), Barnet's bebop big band of 1949, and June Christy (1950-51). In the 1950s, Williamson worked regularly with Bud Shank, Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars, with his own trios, and as a studio musician. He spent most of the 1960s and '70s in the studios, although he returned to jazz in the 1980s with his improvising style virtually unchanged. Claude Williamson -- who has led sessions for Capitol (1954-1955), Bethlehem, Criterion, Contract (1961-1962), Sea Breeze (1977), Interplay, Discovery, Fresh Sound, and a few Japanese labels -- recorded a memorable tribute to Bud Powell for V.S.O.P. in 1995. He currently plays regularly in the Los Angeles area.