Bernie Williams on Being a Team Player

FORMER NEW YORK YANKEES STAR Bernie Williams isn’t just some rich guy with a guitar who releases vanity projects. He’s an absolute freak of nature who somehow possesses world-class talent in both sports and music. And, rather than pad his own stats by playing all the guitars and hogging all the glory on his second release, Moving Forward [Reform], Williams enlists a veritable murderer’s row to accompany him, including Mike Stern, Scott Henderson, Michael Landau, and Tim Pierce.—

You have a lot of great guitarists on this record. Some guitarists wouldn’t want to share playing time with such monsters.

I’ve been listening to them for so long and they have influenced the way that I hear music in such a profound way, the opportunity to work with them was a dream come true. Whether I should have played some of these solos or not was not that important. What was important was to get the essence of the music.

Talk about the contributions of Mike Stern and Scott Henderson.

Scott Henderson played on my tune “Songo,” and it was just incredible. Listening to him work through all those changes—he doesn’t just do the old minor pentatonic stuff, man! He was very complimentary about the song and the way it flows, and that really made me feel good.

Mike Stern was such a down to earth guy. He heard the track, did the solo in basically one take, and then did some background guitar work as well. It was amazing to watch him. He told me he thought it was a cool song. To be complimented on my compositional skills from two of my favorite guitar players, I thought, “This is not a bad job.”

Is there a baseball equivalent to playing with those guys?

The one thing that I could compare it to was when I went to the All-Star Game in 1999. That was the year they brought out the Team of the Century. So there I am, an All Star, and they bring out all these Hall of Famers like Ted Williams and Willie Mays. All of a sudden, I’m feeling like a rookie. It really put some perspective on things.