MSUToday
Published: Feb. 11, 2013

Go Green, Go Grammys

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Michael Sundermann College of Music office: (517) 353-2043 sunderm1@msu.edu

Ben Williams, an alumnus of Michigan State University’s College of Music, took home a Grammy Award Feb. 10 when his band, the Pat Metheny Unity Band, won best jazz instrumental album.

Williams, bassist for the band, graduated from MSU in 2007, where he was the first recipient of the Drs. Lou A. and Roy J. Simon Endowed Scholarship Fund. He later earned a master’s degree from The Juilliard School.

“Ben has a fearless and open-minded approach to what music can be, which made him perfect for this band,” Metheny said. “Finding guys who can play great melodies has always been hard, and Ben has a natural way of using space as well as being really able to get around the instrument; a wonderful combination of skills.”

Williams released his debut album, “State of Art,” in 2011. He was named “Up and Coming Artist” at the 2012 Jazz Journalist Association Jazz Awards and he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2009.

“Ben is one of the most exceptional and talented jazz artists I have had the opportunity to teach,” said Rodney Whitaker, director of MSU’s Jazz Studies Program. “From the first moment I heard him play, I knew he was destined to become a star.”

Also at this year’s Grammy Awards, Molly Fillmore, associate professor of voice, sang soprano as the role of "Helmwige" in Metropolitan Opera’s “Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen,” which earned best opera recording. In addition, The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band, started by the late Clare Fischer, a two-time MSU alumnus, won a Grammy for the best Latin jazz album.

MSU alumnus Ben Williams, bassist for the Pat Metheny Unity Band. Photo by Lindsey Jati.

The Will to Make a Difference.
Who will? Spartans Will.