Joe Williams (vcl), Thad Jones, Joe Newman (tp), Benny Powell (tb), Marshall Royal, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Charlie Fowlkes (saxes), Count Basie (p), Freddie Green (g), Eddie Jones (b), Sonny Payne (d). Ernie Willkins, Frank Foster & Buddy Bregman (arr)
Reference: FSRCD 655
Bar code: 8427328606554
Although the musical art of the early-50s Count Basie band had been widely appreciated by jazz fans and musicians even before Joe Williams joined on the Christmas Day, 1954, his arrival as the bands vocalist put the final seal on public approval. It was a marriage made in heaven. From the first day, he won over both jazz fans and r&b audiences with his laconic, deadpan delivery and earthy, beat-rich blues declamatory style.
What Joe WilliamsDown Beats New Star of the Yearbrought to the Basie band was a link to the people, a vocal bridge over which they could join themselves to the band. What Basie got in Williams was not the best blues singer of the age, nor the best ballad singer of the year, but a man who was adapted to the peculiarly complex Basie sound. It took that firmness, that strength of Williams and his qualities as a preacher, to give the band the extra excitement needed to complete the package.
The blues were wailing and swinging and shouting night after night, and the riffs and figures echoed wordless phrases in response to the singers full-bodied vocal belting. Williams backed by the Basie band was a magical combination.
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