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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

CLARENCE WILLIAMS
Baby, Won't You Please Come Home ?

His 25 Greatest 1923 - 1933
LIVING ERA CD AJA 5403

Crotchet  



Clarence Williams - piano, vocals and jug with various small groups under his leadership featuring : Red Allen, Louis Armstrong, Buster Bailey, Sidney Bechet, Wilbur De Paris, Eddie Lang, Louis Metcalfe, King Oliver, Don Redman, Prince Robinson.......


1. Baby Won't You Please Come Home ?
2. Gulf Coast Blues
3. Wild Cat Blues
4. Kansas City Blues
5. ' Tain't Nobody's Bus'ness If I Do
6. Everybody Loves My Baby
7. Mandy, Make Up Your Mind
8. Cake Walking Babies From Home
9. Papa De - Da - Da ( A New Orleans Stomp )
10. Gravier Street Blues
11. Candy Lips, I'm Stuck On You
12. Cushion Foot Stomp
13. Red Hot Flo From Ko - Ko - Mo
14. Church Sobbin' Blues
15. Wild Flower Rag
16. West End Blues
17. Organ Grinder Blues
18. In The Bottle Blues
19. Breeze, Blow My Baby Back To Me
20. Whoop It Up
21. I've Found A New Baby
22. Worn Out Blues
23. He Wouldn't Stop Doin' It
24. Shout, Sister, Shout
25. Dispossessin' Me

Clarence Williams was born in Plaquemine Delta Louisiana in 1893 and had a long and varied career covering many aspects of the music business. He died in New York in 1965 having retired from full - time music in the early forties for reasons of ill - health, he spent some of his later years in the antique business. Williams is now a half - forgotten figure the early days of jazz. However, his contribution is significant on many levels and it would not be a mistake to rank him alongside the likes of Jelly Roll Morton for his overall achievements. Apparently Williams was of a much more modest disposition to Morton, which might explain his relative obscurity.

Clarence Williams played an important role in the promotion of the music - at various times he acted as a record producer, formed his own publishing company and owned several record stores. This ran parallel to his career as a performer and recording artist. He was also a composer and co - composer of some significance as can be heard from many of the selections on this issue.

The Grove Dictionary describes him as a "dependable rather than exceptional " pianist. This might be true, but Williams was quite capable of contributing a telling solo and proved to be one of the better accompanists to some of the outstanding singers and instrumentalists of the time. He was also a more than adequate singer - particularly on novelty numbers ( part of his early career was spent in Minstrel shows ).

The performances contained on this disc are by various groups ( mostly under Williams' leadership ) and are fascinating both in their breadth of style and in their consistently high quality. " Baby Won't You Please Come Home?" shows Williams ability as an arranger in the developing big band idiom whilst his more famous Blue Five sessions are in more of a New Orleans/ Chicago mode of ensemble with a more polyphonic approach by the front line. The Blue Fives are almost as significant in the early annals of jazz as the Hot Fives and Sevens as they also include Louis Armstrong on some titles and Sidney Bechet on others - indeed there are several numbers on which they both perform which is of great interest considering the rivalry between these two giants throughout their careers. On the purely instrumental side another highlight is the Novelty Four recording of " In The Bottle Blues ". This has King Oliver on cornet and there is some wonderful guitar playing by Eddie Lang. " Cushion Foot Stomp " by the Washboard Five is pure delight, containing some cutting clarinet work by Buster Bailey, amusing scat singing from Williams and superb buttery bass notes on the tuba from Cyrus St. Clair.

The vocal selections come from a wide range of singers including Bessie Smith ( " Gulf Coast Blues ") a highly risqué and entertaining "Organ Grinder Blues " from Ethel Waters and several from Williams' wife and long - time musical associate Eva Taylor ( "Red Hot Flo From Kop-Ko-Mo" is particularly memorable ). " I' ve Found A New Baby " is recorded as a comedy routine with the great James UP. Johnson and is not at all what one would expect from such a renowned composer and influential "stride" pianist.
This disc is a real gem and would grace any collection alongside the Hot Fives, Creole Jazz Bands and Red Hot Peppers. I cannot recommend this highly enough - it is like Williams himself was - entertaining and enlightening on many different levels.


Dick Stafford


D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry.



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