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Martin Tudor Williams Edit Profile

Editor , Music critic , author

Martin Tudor Williams, Editor, music critic, author. Recipient Deems Taylor award in music criticism American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, 1971, 86; Guggenheim Foundation fellow, 1978.


Williams, Martin Tudor was born on August 9, 1924 in Richmond, Virginia, United States. Son of John Bell and Rebecca (Yancey) Williams.


Williams attended St. Christopher Episcopal Preparatory School, then entered the U.S. Army during World War II. After his military service during World War II, which included Battle of Iwo Jima, Williams first studied law, then literature at the University of Virginia (BA 1948), at the University of Pennsylvania (MA 1950) and at Columbia University.


Williams, beginning in the early 1950s, became a prolific jazz critic, contributing articles to The Saturday Review, The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, Down Beat, and The Jazz Review, which he founded in November 1958 with Nat Hentoff, which often featured contributions by jazz musicians, including Gunther Schuller, Dick Katz, and Cecil Taylor. The Jazz Review also featured contributions by other notable people, including Sheldon Mayer and Dan Morgenstern. Williams authored many books on jazz, a collection of sixteen essays, profiling jazz musicians, in a book titled The Jazz Tradition.

From 1971 to 1981 Williams headed the jazz and "American Culture Program" at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., where, in 1973, he compiled and wrote liner notes for The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. In 1983, he Gunther Schuller, and the Smithsonian — in collaboration with RCA Records — produced Big Band Jazz. With animation historian Michael Barrier, Williams co-edited A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics (1982).



Children from former marriage: Charles, Frederick, Frank.

John Bell Williams

Rebecca (Yancey) Williams