Jazz Stories
9:40 am
Sat December 4, 2010

Bob Perkins Recommends...


Count Basie Swings/Joe Williams Sings

Our "BP with the GM" brings his knowledge and charm to another must-read CD review!

Singer Joe Williams bounced around for quite a number of years before he became a recognized entertainer. He was thus familiar with hard times - once having to undergo electric-shock treatment for an emotional disorder, perhaps brought on by the frustrations of trying to obtain recognition. Read More...

He began performing professionally at age 16, singing with a number of bands - including Lionel Hampton's - before finally gaining international attention with Count Basie's Band in the mid-1950s with the monster hit, "Every Day I Have the Blues." Williams was said to have been making $75 a week before the hit song, but shortly thereafter, began making $750 a week. Not only did the song vault Williams into the international spotlight, but it also boosted the sagging popularity of the Basie Band.

The Basie-Williams union lasted from 1954 to 1961, and the fortunes of both entities continued to soar as the band and its featured vocalist turned out hit after hit.

When Williams left Basie, he began to broaden his repertoire, adding ballads to his already established blues book. His deep baritone, diction, phrasing, and outstanding stage presence, put him in a class with any of the romantic balladeers of his day?but still, he was regarded by most as a blues singer; in truth, he was one of the most versatile singers in secular music.

Joe Williams was born Joseph Goreed, on December 12, 1918 in Cordele, Georgia. He captured a pile of honors before departing at age 80, in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. His honors include a star on the Walk of Fame, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, and a handful of Grammy awards.

December was a good month for Williams: he was born in that month, and joined the Basie Band on Christmas Day, 1954. The rest is history; but, more specifically - legend and legacy.
Of all of his recordings, one of the best remains: Count Basie Swings/Joe Williams Sings. This 1955 classic contains many of the Basie-Williams collaborations. --BP

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