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

JOE WILLIAMS
At Newport ’63
Bluebird 09026 63919 2



Crotchet
midprice 


  1. Without a Song
  2. Spoken Intro by Joe Williams
  3. Gravy waltz
  4. She’s Warm, She’s Willing, She’s Wonderful
  5. Come Back, Baby
  6. Medley: All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm / Do you Wanna Jump, Children?
  7. Wayfaring Stranger
  8. Every Day I Have the Blues
  9. Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere
  10. April in Paris
  11. In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)
  12. Some of This ‘n’ Some of That
  13. Roll ‘Em Pete
  14. Gravy Waltz
  15. Medley: All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm / Do You Wanna Jump, Children?
  16. Some of This ‘n’ Some of That

14, 15, & 16 are bonus tracks, which were not included on the original LP version.
Joe Williams – Vocal
Howard McGhee, Clark Terry, Thad Jones – Trumpet
Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Ben Webster – Tenor
Junior Mance – Piano
Bob Cranshaw – Bass
Mickey Roker – Drums

Joe Williams appeared at most Newport Jazz festivals from about 1955 until the year of his death 1999. He was part of the event and the audiences could not imagine the event without him. Joe was raised in Chicago; the home of many famous jazz musicians who nearly all have a big sound just as Joe has a big voice. It was his long stay in the Count Basie Band that brought Joe Williams to prominence; the Basie band and Joe Williams were made for each other. The Basie band was probably the best big band ever and Joe with his big blues inspired voice, was the perfect foil for the self effacing Basie.

Like most live jazz festival albums, this one has some rough edges, but recording at an open-air festival where there is only one take and many banana skins to slip on is never easy. In order to get round this the producer of the original LP re-recorded some of the tracks in a studio before the album was released; this only came to light when this new version was produced for the CD format. For the studio recordings Thad Jones replaced Howard McGee and Ben Webster replaced Zoot Sims, not a bad pair of deps you might say! This new release has both live and studio versions so the listeners can judge for themselves which they prefer.

The backing group is an ‘all star’ affair, on tracks 3, 6, 9, 14, & 15 there are backing arrangements written by Marl Young, on the other tracks the backings were left for the musicians to work out for themselves, not unusual for a jazz performance. Clark Terry contributes significantly to the backing and also plays some excellent solos, which is also true of pianist Junior Mance. Coleman Hawkins plays some lovely full toned Tenor and there are some nice sounds from Zoot Sims, also although he seems more subdued than usual.

Joe Williams himself is at his best, he had such a warm full voice, he could sing the blues with the best and he had a tremendous feel for the rhythm. He has a huge range and obviously enjoyed working with this ‘all star’ line up. If I had to pick an outstanding track it would be Some of This ‘n’ Some of That with it’s funky feel.

The audience simply won’t let Joe finish this set, after the last number a frenetic Roll ‘em Pete, they chant ‘We want Joe’. I enjoyed this CD, in my minds eye I can imagine what the atmosphere on that night in July 63 was like.

 

Don Mather



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