J. Kimo Williams
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1976 with a BA in composition, Kimo spent a year on the Berklee faculty and then earned his Masters in Management from Webster University in 1983.
In 1991 he released his first album “War Stories” on his label Little Beck Music. This CD received critical acclaim from national magazines and newspapers mostly emphasizing Kimo's arranging and composing abilities. He received 4 1/2 (out of 5) stars from Downbeat magazine. This album featured his original compositions performed by his thirty-member Kimotion ensemble, which included Michael Stern, Vinnie Colauita, Victor Bailey, and others.
He released his second Kimotion CD, “Tracking” in November 2001, again receiving rave media reviews. It also included drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (formerly with Sting) and Tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker among others.
Kimo has written and premiered three symphonies. In November 1991, Kimos' full orchestra score, “Symphony For The Sons of Nam” has been performed by the Savannah, Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Indianapolis , Alabama, Nashville and other symphony orchestra’s. This score has also been performed in St Petersburg Russia, Czechoslovakia and Vietnam. The work was regularly programmed on NPR’s “Performance Today” from 1990 to 1997.
In 1999, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra recognized Kimo for his contribution to American Music with his selection as their Composer of Year.
Kimo has written four string quartets, “Two Gether” “Quartet For The Sons of Nam”, “New Beginnings”, and “Quiet Shadows” .
In 1997 Kimo wrote the music for the Steppenwolf Theatre production “A Streetcar Named Desire” and was musical director for the Goodman Theatre production “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”.
His score “Buffalo Soldiers”, a commission by The West Point Academy to celebrate their 2002 Bicentennial, was premiered February 1999 at West Point. This score, along with a narratives based on speeches by Abraham Lincoln and General Colin Powell, honors the Buffalo Soldier of the 1800’s.
In 1998 he created the G&K Classic Rock Band which subsequently became the Lt. Dan Band with actor Gary Sinise playing bass. After 13 years putting the Lt. Dan Band on the road as an efficient performing ensemble, he left the band in 2012 to form a new ensemble with military veterans.
Kimo is a 2007 Fulbright Specialist providing consultation in Music Technology and jazz curriculum development to the Hue Academy of Music in Vietnam.