The Tony Williams Lifetime  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Tony Williams Lifetime was a jazz-rock fusion group led by jazz drummer Tony Williams.


Original Lineup

The Tony Williams Lifetime was founded in 1969 as a power trio with John McLaughlin on electric guitar and Larry Young on organ. The band was possibly named for Williams' debut album as a bandleader, Life Time, released on Blue Note in 1964. Their debut album was Emergency!, a double album released on Polydor Records in 1969. It was largely rejected by jazz listeners at the time of its release, but is now looked upon as a fusion classic. Jack Bruce joined the group to provide bass and vocals on their second album, Turn It Over, released in 1970.
McLaughlin left the group and was replaced by Ted Dunbar for their 1971 album, Ego. This album featured Ron Carter on bass and cello, and Warren Smith and Don Alias on percussion. Lifetime gigs around this time featured Juini Booth on bass. Following Larry Young's departure from the band, Tony Williams was the only original member remaining. The fourth and last Lifetime album for Polydor, 1972's The Old Bum's Rush, featured an entirely new personnel and a keyboard-heavy sound. It received poor reviews, and the group was effectively dissolved for several years.

The New Tony Williams Lifetime

In 1975, Williams put together a quartet he called The New Tony Williams Lifetime featuring bassist Tony Newton, pianist Alan Pasqua, and virtuoso guitarist Allan Holdsworth. This lineup recorded two albums for Columbia Records, Believe It in 1975 and Million Dollar Legs in 1976. These albums were reissued on one CD in 1992 as Lifetime: The Collection.


At the time of its release, Emergency! was notably influential on the then-emerging genre of jazz fusion.[1] It was also one of several albums that the members of The Allman Brothers Band listened to regularly early in their career.[2]

John Zorn named The Tony Williams Lifetime as a specific musical inspiration in the liner notes of the Naked City album Radio.


Since the death of Williams in 1997, Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield formed Trio Beyond with Larry Goldings in honour of The Tony Williams Lifetime. They have released one album, Saudades (2006), on the German label ECM.

In 2006, former Lifetime members Allan Holdsworth and Alan Pasqua toured with drummer Chad Wackerman and bassist Jimmy Haslip performing a set comprising original as well as Lifetime material. They recorded a live DVD scheduled for release in early 2007, and future live dates are planned.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Tony Williams Lifetime" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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