Tony Williams

Frans Schellekens / Redferns/Getty

Tony Williams already had a secure place on the Mount Rushmore of jazz drumming when he died, of cardiac arrest after routine surgery, in 1997.

He was only 51, but seasoned in the spotlight, with an imposing track record spanning several decades. He had been a head-turning prodigy with a genius for locomotion, rocketing to fame under the wing of Miles Davis, who later attested: “A drummer like Tony comes around only once in 30 years.”