Travel Interview
Fall 2020
Mr. Fred Williams
Boston, MA
Trend Magazine Online™

By Jay Whipple

Trend Magazine Online™

Old School Jazz!
Re-published from a previous edition
Fred Williams Boston, MA Travel Review Pic
Mr. Fred and Mrs. Augusta Williams took our QCT Charlotte Daily City Tour™ by Queen City Tours® and Travel and during our conversation the subject of music was one of the topics. As a former Jazz trumpeter, I could tell that this guy was authentic and the real deal mainly because most old school Jazz artist speak in sort of a smoky raspy voice. In 2007 I conducted our Charlotte Black/African-American Heritage Tour™ for the Turner Family Reunion group that included Jazz great Lou Donaldson who also spoke in that smoky kind of raspy voice just like trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and the late great Louis Daniel "Satchmo" Armstrong (1901 - 1971) and John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917 - 1993) to name a few.
<<<Fred and Augusta Williams Boston, MA

Mr. Gillespie was from Cheraw, SC, and I am privileged to have seen him perform live at the Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, NC, just before his passing. I and Mr. Williams could have conversed for hours on the history of Jazz, certain musicians, and what has happened to what used to be our music. As such, I could not resist the rare opportunity to interview one of our old school Jazz legends to get his ideas and experiences with now teaching the art down on paper. He and his wife - who is a modified motivational speaker - were more than happy to accommodate me after returning to the Boston, MA, area where they now live. This is what he had to convey.

^^^Fred Williams

Jay - Were you born in Boston?
Mr. Williams - No, I was born in a small town called Kinloch, MO, which is about 12 miles on the outskirts of St. Louis. I left there was I was 12 years old but went to grade school in St. Louis.

Jay -- What is your educational background?
Mr. Williams - I graduated from high school after my tour in the Army, and went on to the Boston Conservatory of Music. I studied the flute and clarinet in Germany, graduated from the Devry Technical Institute and have had advanced training in digital logic in the industrial department in Waltham, MA.

Jay - Did you play while in the Army?
Mr. Williams - Yes, I was in the 427th Army Band which was the first unit to be integrated under former President Harry S. Truman. We had special buses that toured all over Germany and we recorded in Norway.

Jay - Did you run into any racial problems while serving in the Army band?
Mr. Williams - Yes, we were beat up all over Europe because the white girls liked musicians.

Jay - Did you run into any racial problems after the war stateside?
Mr. Williams - Yes, when I was studying at the Boston Conservatory the Dean accused me of not writing my music because he said that "Black people could not write music."


Jay - Have you traveled much since leaving the Army?
Mr. Williams - Yes, my wife, who has a Masters in Nursing, and me have been to Australia, Rome, Venice, and Paris on leisure.

Jay - Did you come up with any notable old school Jazz musicians?Fred Williams Pic
Mr. Williams - Yes, Quincy Jones (composer and former trumpeter) was a street musician who played in a club in Boston. He would sit in and play all night. Louis Farrakhan (Muslim leader) was a dancer at one of the lodges here and Thelonious Monk (former Jazz pianist) was one of his students in New York. I also played with a guy that played with the late Louis Armstrong.

Jay - How do you teach your students the free-flowing art of Jazz?
Mr. Williams - My way of teaching is to teach them how to improvise.

Jay - What is your opinion of the state of Jazz today?
Mr. Williams - Jazz today is still progressing, musicians are well schooled, and even the Japanese and Chinese now respect Jazz musicians. America, however, is less impressed and they push novices.

Jay - What about Black people; do they still support our art?
Mr. Williams - Black people don't follow Jazz the way they should and don't know the history. I'd like to see more young people get into it, it's our heritage.


Jay - Who are some of your favorite Jazz musicians?
Mr. Williams - The late Charlie Parker (sax) and John Coltrane (sax) were musicians like we used to be. The Marsalis brothers done a lot for Jazz; their father was a good teacher. We need more musicians to do that.

Jay - Who were some of the musicians that inspired you in when you were coming up?
Mr. Williams - There were a lot of innovators in Boston when I came here; The late Jackie Byars (piano), Dexter Gordon (sax), Paul Gonzalez (sax), and Duke Ellington (composer, piano).

Jay - Do you give back to the community?
Mr. Williams - Yes, we generate scholarships through our 501 (C)(3) non-profit organization via the Glee Project and Berkley Scholarships.

Jay - Do you have any special projects coming up?
Mr. Williams - Yes, I'm going to do a radio program on 106.7 here in Boston in July.

Jay - I see you have a side gig selling Black Miracle Posters, what's that all about?
Mr. Williams - Yes, we sell those museum-quality posters and prints to help support our scholarship programs.

Jay - Whose idea was it to play two instruments (saxes) at the same time?
Mr. Williams -- I got that idea from another guy.

Note: Some photos courtesy of Fred Williams

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