As a jazz aficionado, but mostly as a music fan and drummer I decided to pay my respects to this great musician.
Billy is not often mentioned in drummer forums or circles... but he was no unknown overlooked guy... he was a master.
His playing was both flawless and tasteful... he was inventive, and had a looseness and sense of swing, that was just a joy to listen.
But what really blows me away was his musicality... one of the few guys from his era who was known for playing rock n' roll BEFORE jazz... and went on to do groundbreaking work with Ornette Coleman, Thelonius Monk, Lee Morgan, Charlie Haden, and so many other artists... so many great musical moments have his stamp...
Listening last night to his album "Soweto", I just remembered what an amazing talent this man was...
This is absolutely one of my favourite records... he not only composes and arranges a big chunk of the music, he also sang and played guitar on it... his sense of swing is phenomenal... you can hear Ed Blackwell, Roy Haines in him... and you can hear him on Tony Williams and Elvin... Billy was amazing... he just flowed with the music as well as drive it.
Billy was not one of those guys that were a lot on magazine covers or endorsements... but he was a true master... a man that ONLY produced great drumming... if you can, check out some of his music or get one of his albums... if you are not very familiar with him, give a listen.
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" John Lennon