Chicago Composer/Musician Kimo Williams and Kimotion to perform symphonic - big band - rock (USA)

Chicago composer and bassist Kimo Williams will perform with his 20-piece Symphonic-Big Band-Rock ensemble, KIMOTION, on Wednesday, June 4th in Hue, Vietnam.

The unique show will also feature a special guest appearance by Vietnamese String players from the Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra and traditional Vietnamese Instrumentalist also from Ho Chi Minh City.

Kimotion, formerly known as The Paumalu Symphony, was formed in 1975 while Williams was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  Drawing upon his diverse musical influences including Jimi Hendrix, Modest Mussorgsky, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, Williams formed the group to express his eclectic compositional concepts for large ensemble. Those concepts involved his own unique harmonic technique called  “Diagonal Harmony.”

Today, the 20 member ensemble includes four trumpets, four trombones, fives saxes, guitar, keyboards, percussion, Kimo on bass, drums, and a string section.  The resulting sound is what Modern Drummer calls “…a restless stylistic mishmash that leaves few genres unexplored.”  Downbeat calls the high energy music “Powerful stuff,” giving it 4 stars, with Jazz Times raving “Williams’ brilliant, razor-edged mosaics bristle with the audacious rawness of Zappa.” 


After graduating from Berklee College of Music  in 1976 with a BA in composition, Kimo spent a year on the Berklee faculty and in 1991 released his first album War Stories on his own 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. War Stories is a Symphonic- jazz-rock big-band album, and along with some of his classical works, is considered a part of his Vietnam catharsis.

He released his second album Tracking in November 2001, again receiving rave reviews. This CD featured Kimo's friend actor/musician Gary Sinise (star of CSI New York) who also was a co-producer as well as drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (formerly with Sting).

In November 1991 Kimos' full orchestra score , Symphony For The Sons of Nam was one of three scores selected for a reading session in a national search for African-American composers by the Savannah and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. Since then, this work has been performed extensively, was regularly programmed on NPR’s “Performance Today”.

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 five string quartets, Two Gether, Quartet For The Sons of Nam, New Beginnings, Quiet Shadows and September in Saigon. Quiet Shadows was premiered August 26th at the opening of the Vietnam National Art Gallery in Chicago where Mayor Daley commented “Thank you for this is beautiful music”.

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 new 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.

Kimo is a Fulbright Specialist and was featured as “Chicagoan of The Year” by Chicago Magazine in 2006.

As a composer, Kimo uses music to speak from the deepest part of his soul. His philosophy is, Music is the conduit to the hearts of people.

Kimo lives in Chicago with his wife composer /musician Carol Williams and their daughter Rebecca.

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