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I was bummed after hearing of Joe Williams' death in early April. A sophisticated big band singer best known for his work with Count Basie, Williams was also an admirer of the great blues shouter Joe Turner. Williams tackles some Turner-style material on this 1983 CD featuring Jack McDuff (organ), Red Holloway (tenor sax), Eddie Cleanhead Vinson (sax and vocals), Phil Upchurch (guitar) and Ray Brown (bass). These veteran soul-jazzers swing out in soulful fashion and inspire some of the most spirted singing of Williams' long career. The singer's fun-loving personality and considerable charm shine through on every track, and his deep baritone voice sounds surpisingly low-down. Mostly blues classics on this one, including "Please Send Me Someone to Love," "Goin' To Chicago Blues," "Rocks In My Bed," "Sent For You Yesterday," and two tunes that Williams himself made famous, "Alright, Okay, You Win" and "Comeback." If you like blues-oriented jazz, this one belongs in your collection.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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