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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Pamela Williams

Pamela WIlliamsSmitty: It is certainly my wonderful pleasure to welcome to a friend and a monster sax player.  You know her from Sweet Saxations, The Perfect Love, Eight Days of Ecstasy, and now she has a great new project, it’s called Elixir, and I’ve got to mention the DVD, A Night With The Saxtress.  Please welcome the incredible Ms. Pamela Williams.  Pamela, how ya doin’?

Pamela Williams (PW):  Real well.

Smitty: It’s great to talk to you.

PW:  Great to talk with you too.

Smitty: You’ve got to really be excited about this new project. You’re not only giving us the audio, but you’re giving us the visual too.

PW: Yeah, that’s so cool.  I was really happy when Shanachie approached me about doing a DVD. I was like “I think that would be a really, really good thing.”

Smitty: Which came first, the DVD or the new album?

PW:  The DVD came first.

Smitty:  What I like about this DVD, the artwork; you’ve got this great red outfit and you’ve got the hat workin’ and then you’ve got the white outfit, and I just love this whole layout.

PW:  Oh, thank you.

Smitty: This was filmed at the Harbourfront Centre (Theatre) in Toronto, Canada?

PW:  Toronto, Canada.

Smitty:  What was that like? Talk about that experience there.

PW:  Oh, it was beautiful in Toronto. Unfortunately, I was in and out to do the DVD, so I didn’t get a chance to really do much sightseeing, but from what I saw, what a beautiful city.

Smitty:  Yeah, absolutely.

PW:  Yeah, so it was fun. We got in there and did the DVD.  I thought the DVD was gonna actually be in front of a live audience, when I got there, it was actually live, but it was live in a studio, but it was cool. I thought it came out really good. I was really happy with the DVD.

Smitty:  Yes, and you’ve got the 5.1 Surround Sound working with this.

PW:  Right, right.

Smitty:  It’s a very hooked up DVD.

PW:  Yeah, they did a really good job with it.

Smitty: I must congratulate Shanachie, it’s a wonderful idea.

PW:  I think it was.  I know Kim Waters had done one too.

Smitty:  Yes.

PW:  And also Chieli Minucci.

Smitty:  Yes, I have those and they’re all great. So you’ve got some great label mates and you guys are just working the DVD thing.

PW:  Yeah.

Smitty:  Yeah, I think it’s cool. Before we get started talking about the record, I just wanna talk about your days in Philadelphia.

PW: Yes!

Smitty:  And what a great city to have grown up.

PW:  Yes, it’s still a great city today.

Smitty: Talk about how that whole deep musical tradition there influenced you to want to get into music and to bring you to where you are now.

PW:  Well, Philadelphia International Records was really, really popular at the time that I was growing up, there are so many legends who came to Philadelphia to record on that label and the radio was great when I was growing up. I mean, all the music was so good.  Everything that they played on the radio was really good music and I think growing up in a city where you that was such a hotbed for so many different types of music; R&B and jazz and contemporary jazz. I think it did influence me as a musician because I got exposed to so much great music at a young age.

Smitty: Yeah, and radio was so friendly then, wasn’t it?

PW:  Yeah, very friendly.

Smitty:  And we got to hear so much great music, you’re right.

PW: It’s so different now. Back then, DJ’s had their own personality, they’d play whatever they wanted to play.

Smitty:  Yes. It was good.

PW:  It was very good.

Smitty: Another great musician that I just can’t get enough of is Grover Washington, Jr. What a great sax player. I know he had some influence on your career and your craft.  Talk about what that did for you.

PW:  Oh, man, Grover Washington is how I learned how to play the saxophone because people ask me, they’re like “How did you learn how to play this instrument?”  “Did you have musical lessons?” I never really had lessons. I think I may have had maybe five lessons when I was starting out playing the saxophone, but really, even before I had those lessons, I learned how to play because once I got the saxophone in school, I was in the high school jazz band, and I used to put on Grover Washington, Jr. records and just copy everything he did.

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