Here is a clip of one of my favorite Tony Williams drum solos. The solo begins at around 25:20 into this clip.
Here are some thoughts on the ideas Tony employs.
First of all, the snares are off for the duration of the solo….in essence, this turns the snare drum into the highest pitched Tom Tom on the drum kit. There is something about doing this that smooths over the entire sound of the kit; it makes the sonics of the drum set more soothing somehow.
Tony plays very melodically, using single stroke rolls to create long notes around the kit. His use of dynamics within these rolls is notable and effective. Listen to the melody he creates and then listen to the melodic and rhythmic themes of the tune. You’ll notice that Tony is playing around with ideas that come from the composition itself.
His use of Swiss Triplets broken up between his hands is a classic Tony Williams idea, and it sounds marvelous here.
Another idea he uses near the beginning of the solo is to take a pattern and play it at different rates of speed. This is another classic idea that Tony uses frequently and it sounds great here, as usual.
This is a masterful and beautiful drum solo. I plan on studying it more deeply and using the ideas in my playing.