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Swingin' the Blues

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Album Review

"Fiddler" Williams was born in Oklahoma and is only one year younger than his home state. At 91 years of age, he still has that flash that made him a legendary swing musician; his chops are as sweet as ever. Backed by an excellent group of musicians that includes Henry Butler on piano, Joe Cohn on guitar and Bobby Watson on alto sax, Fiddler digs into ten tunes, assaying the groove with Horace Silver's "The Preacher," Mercer and Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," and Benny Goodman's "A Smooth One." He also works a touching cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," accompanied by Butler on piano. The coolest deal on the CD is Williams singing "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You." The whole thing — the arrangement, his vocal and his solos — conjures a bygone era of beautiful music that was "the" cool jazz before Miles' cool jazz. This is one of the most elegant swing projects to be released in recent years and a valuable addition to Williams' discography.


Born: 22 February 1908 in Muskogee, OK

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Few great jazz musicians enjoyed such a lengthy life and career as Claude "Fiddler" Williams, who outlasted virtually all his contemporaries and achieved his greatest successes at an advanced age. Williams began playing guitar at age ten; he was inspired to take up violin after hearing Joe Venuti play a gig near his Muskogee, OK, home. He played around Oklahoma with bassist Oscar Pettiford, among others. His first professional experience came in 1927 when he joined Terrence Holder's highly regarded...
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Swingin' the Blues, Claude "Fiddler" Williams
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