The George Shearing Quartet and Joe Williams, with the Junior Mance Trio, British Tour - September October 1962 008
Pages 12 and 13 of a programme for the George Shearing Quintet, Joe Williams and Junior Mance Trio tour of Great Britain September - October 1962. The profile of Joe Williams continues on page 12, with an advert for Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond on page 13.
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ï»¿He had sung under all kinds of conditions with all kinds of bands He had been required to sing more or less everything from pop ballads to blues shouts, and it is probably true to say that if he wasnât ready for the top class by 1950. then he never would be.
In that year he made the first of his connections with the Count Basie group. Now in those days the Basie group was a very different thing from what it had once been and what it was destined soon to be again. Basie, leader of one of the greatest big bands of all time, was now reduced to a septet. There was a variety of reasons for this situation. The day of the big band had passed during the war, when extraneous factors like call-up, difficulties of public transport and rising costs of living had cracked down on the touring game. Where once you could hardly see the roadway for touring bands, now they were becoming rarer every day. After the war the situation did not improve, and apart from Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton, it became very hard to see a fourteen-piece orchestra actually working to a live audience. Basie himself had seen his classic orchestra of the 1930s gradually fall apart. The septet was his form of compromise, the only practical way he could see of still leading a Basie group without going under. He brought this small group to Chicago in 1950, and there Joe Williams joined him and sang with him for ten weeks.
At that time presumably it was just a temporary engagement, a â gig â, a short season while Basie was playing Chicago. So when Basie moved on. he did so without Williams, who stayed behind in his adopted home town. Had Basie continued to jog along with the septet it is possible, although improbable, that we might never have heard of Joe Williams. But Basie was now on the brink of the most incredible episode in an incredible career. If in 1950 you had suggested that at any moment now Count Basie was to re-form the big band and enjoy a success even greater than he had known in the halcyon days of Lester Young, Buck Clayton. Tab Smith and the rest of them, people would have laughed at you. But that is exactly what happened.
I remember in 1954 I was on tour with a jazz group We always carried a selection of tapes and recordings around with us, to keep up with developments. I remember walking into the
ballroom of the Astoria, Nottingham, to find several of my fellows squatting over a tape recorder listening with great intensity to a big band. When, on inquiring the name of this band,
I received the answer â Count Basie â, I was dumbfounded. 1 had always considered Count Basie as belonging to the generation before mine.
I had no idea that he was leading another big band. The thing that appealed to us about this new group was the way it did things without apparent fuss, getting straight to the heart of the problem with bold, comparatively simple figures that generated a tremendous rhythmic life and fire.
It must have been a few weeks after this experience in a Nottingham ballroom that Joe Williams joined Basieâs permanent staff. To be exact, it was on Christmas Day, 1954, just when Basie was rising again. Williams was to remain with the band right through the triumphant return to world popularity, until in the end the honours heaped on Basieâs shoulders tempted us to suggest that his band was beginning to get sated with success.
Since he left Basie, Joe Williams has naturally become a solo attraction, although even before he went out as a solo he was already making recordings where he received the star billing and the accompanying group might not be Basie at all. And it is about one of these albums that I wish to talk for a moment, because in it is contained what I consider to be some of Joe Williamsâ best recorded work. But before I do climb on to this particular hobbyhorse, I must make some mention of the most important single event in Williamsâ professional career, the event that established him once and for all as one of the big attractions of Show Business. When he joined the Basie band, Joe Williams had to hit on the right kind of material, and it was natural for him to think in terms of the blues. He remembered in particular one he had heard sung some years before by Memphis Slim, and he decided it would be ideal as a featured vocal for him with Basieâs band.
This blues was called Ev'ry Day, and it zoomed up the charts with a rapidity that must have shocked everybody concerned. Basie and Williams included. I think it succeeded because of its strength, both instrumentally and vocally, and because of the great drive impelled by Williams as he sang with that magnificent orchestral support. It was as different from the usual
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HAROLD DAVISON presents ----------
QUARTET Featuring PAUL DESMOND
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