200

Claude Williams: Swinging The Blues

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Author Michael Ondaatje wrote Coming Through Slaughter, a fictional account of the real New Orleans barber and perhaps the first jazz musician, Buddy Bolden. Bolden’s myth and infamy comes from the fact he was never recorded. Thus, his life makes for great story telling and his sound for much exaggeration. For violinist Claude “Fiddler” Williams, recording in his ninth decade on this planet, his sound is a living archive of jazz history. Williams was born in 1908 in Oklahoma and worked in Doc Pettiford’s (bassist Oscar Pettiford’s father) family band before becoming part of the Kansas City jazz scene of the 1920 and 1930s. His recording debut was with Andy Kirk’s band in 1929. He was hired by Count Basie and would have made it to the big time except for Basie producer John Hammond’s vision that no one in the rhythm section except Basie himself should solo. Williams was replaced by the non-soloing Freddie Green on guitar. Williams returned to Kansas City becoming a regular with the local bands. His association with Jay McShann helped to resurrect his career nationally when in the 1970’s he toured Europe and recorded for independent labels like Steeplechase, Black & Blue, Arhoolie, and Progressive.

Recorded seventy years after his debut, Williams has polished his sound into a precious metal. This ninety-something, like the late Doc Cheatham, has a quiet swing that appeals to a jazz fan whose tastes have mellowed or should I say matured. I always wondered why my father got an adrenilin rush from hearing “Satin Doll.” Thanks to Claude Williams, now I know. His gentle blues spur the heart and his swing, written with a small “s,” stirs the soul. It also didn’t hurt that he was recorded with some stellar musicians like Joe Cohn, the son of saxophonist Al Cohn, and pianist Henry Butler. Butler was a major star for Impulse! Records in the eighties, injecting his New Orleans sound with post-bop and Gospel. Also heard on two tracks is Kansas City’s own Bobby Watson on alto saxophone. Like Williams, Watson's sound has mellowed a bit from his days with Art Blakey and his own band Horizon. A gentle blues, such as this, bears repeated application.

Track List:The Preacher; Things Ain’t What They Used To Be; Somewhere Over The Rainbow; A Smooth One; Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You; I’m Just A Lucky So And So; Moten Swing; These Foolish Things; One For The Count; There Is No Greater Love.


Personnel: Claude Williams

Title: Swinging The Blues | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Bullseye Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Cherry ‎– Sakura CD/LP/Track Review Cherry ‎– Sakura
by John Sharpe
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Blow, Strike & Touch CD/LP/Track Review Blow, Strike & Touch
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show" CD/LP/Track Review Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Sureste" CD/LP/Track Review Sureste
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 2, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Lost at Last" CD/LP/Track Review Lost at Last
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 7, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.