D.C. Native Ben Williams Shares in “Best Instrumental Jazz Album” Grammy Win
Everything's coming up Milhouse for Ben Williams. The 28-year-old bassist, who grew up in Michigan Park, was already racking up an impressive jazz résumé when he won the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition. As a result, he won a recording contract with Concord Records, which subsequently released his debut album State of Art (with his band Sound Effect) in 2011. The album won major critical acclaim, and in 2012 Williams netted an Up and Coming Artist of the Year award from the Jazz Journalists Association.
Last night was not such a direct victory for Williams, but he nonetheless has a part in it. The 2013 Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz Album went to the eponymous record by Pat Metheny's Unity Band, of which Williams is a member. As such he shares the award with guitarist Metheny, saxophonist Chris Potter, and drummer Antonio Sánchez. They collectively beat out such heavy hitters as pianist Ahmad Jamal, alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, and keyboardist Chick Corea (who was nominated twice).
Metheny is the above-the-title artist on the record, so his name will be the one that gets the press mentions; still, Williams adds another trophy to his mantle, and D.C. scores another point in its increasing currency on the jazz scene. Good news all around.
In other local Grammy news, the Smithsonian's Folkways label took home two statues: Its Woody Guthrie collection Woody at 100 picked up an award for Best Boxed Set or Limited Edition Package, and Quetzal's Imaginaries won Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album.
Update: Also! Northern Virginia native TobyMac won Best Contemporary Christian Album for Eye On It.