Michael Williams

Professor
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Michael Williams has been active as a blues and jazz guitarist since 1987, performing extensively throughout the United States and Canada as a member of Grammy Award–winning James Cotton's blues band, and with many other artists, including Mighty Sam McClain, Toni Lynn Washington, Michelle Willson, Jerry Portnoy, blues piano virtuoso David Maxwell, and his own band, Michael Williams and Friends. Williams performed on James Cotton's album, 35th Anniversary Jam, which won a W.C. Handy Award and received a Grammy nomination for best traditional blues album in 2003. He performed on Bruce Katz's 2004 release, A Deeper Blue, and his playing, songwriting, and arranging are featured on Michelle Willson's album, So Emotional. He released Late Night Walk, which features 10 original compositions with guest artists David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax, Sugar Ray Norcia on vocals, and Bruce Katz on Hammond B3 organ and piano.

Michael is an associate professor in the Guitar Department at Berklee College of Music and specializes in teaching a mix of blues and jazz styles. Originally from Northern California, he has written jingles for radio and television, and performed on extended tours throughout Europe with jazz and theater groups.

  • Career Highlights
    • Blues and jazz guitarist
    • Performed extensively throughout the United States and Canada as a member of Grammy Award winner James Cotton's blues band and with many other artists, including David "Fathead" Newman, Mighty Sam McClain, the Bruce Katz Band, Sugar Ray Norcia, and Michelle Willson
    • Performed on James Cotton's CD, 35th Anniversary Jam, which won a W.C. Handy Award and received a Grammy nomination for best traditional blues album in 2003
    • Playing, songwriting, and arranging featured on Michelle Willson's CD So Emotional, which earned a four-star review in DownBeat magazine
    • Released Late Night Walk, which features 10 original compositions with guest artists David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax, Sugar Ray Norcia on vocals, and Bruce Katz on Hammond B3 organ and piano
    • Jingles for radio and television, as well as extended tours throughout Europe with jazz and theater groups

     

  • Education
    • B.M., Berklee College of Music

In Their Own Words

"There really is no typical Berklee student. Everybody's unique and different, and they come in with their own areas that they're pretty comfortable in and areas that need work. My job as a teacher is to help people achieve what they're looking for. I ask students what they're hoping to do, and I try to work with them in their areas of interest, but I also try to find areas that need extra strengthening, above and beyond the proficiency that everybody has to master. I try to take it to the next level for my students."

"I see a lot of people who are interested in blues and jazz, and those are the main areas that I love to work in. Students come in who are already blues players, wanting to work on elements of jazz, and students come in who are jazz or rock players, wanting to get more blues into their playing. I try to make students as complete as I can all around, on guitar skills, rhythm guitar playing, and soloing. If they're interested in playing over changes, we work on that; if they want to get more into real, straight blues, I'm happy to go in that direction, as well. We dedicate a good amount of lesson time each week toward the personal strengths of the style or styles students are interested in."

"I recommend coming to Boston for the number of contacts students can make, the sheer number of other students here. But I also think the guitar faculty we have at Berklee is the most well-versed, diverse, and talented faculty at the largest contemporary music school in the world. The different styles are represented better at our college than students are going to find anywhere else."