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At Newport '63

Joe Williams

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Album Review

The second LP Joe Williams released on RCA was this live set recorded at 1963's Newport Jazz Festival. The recording had actually been in the works for a year; Williams' energetic performance at the previous year's festivities was what got him his contract with George Avakian and the RCA label, and the two agreed that same night to record one studio LP (Jump for Joy) before releasing his next Newport performance as his second album. With an amazing lineup (Clark Terry and Howard McGhee on trumpets, Coleman Hawkins and Zoot Sims on tenor saxes), Williams took listeners through a 12-song journey comprising urbane rhythm tunes ("Gravy Waltz," "Roll 'Em Pete," "Some of This 'N' Some of That") and a few blues ballads ("Come Back, Baby," "Wayfaring Stranger"), plus his pair of inimitable standards: "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "In the Evenin' (When the Sun Goes Down)." The statement in the liner notes describing "the entire program that rocked the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival" is overstating the case, but Williams displays all of his talents — a subtle blend of blues singer, band singer, and rhythm singer — and proves himself quite the triple threat in the process. [Once combined on a Collectables CD with Jump for Joy, At Newport '63 was reissued by Bluebird in 2002, with studio and live versions of the three songs — "Gravy Waltz," "Medley," and "Some of This 'N' Some of That" — re-recorded in the studio after the live versions were deemed unusable.]

Biography

Born: December 12, 1918 in Cordele, GA

Genre: Jazz

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

Joe Williams was the last great big-band singer, a smooth baritone who graced the rejuvenated Count Basie Orchestra during the 1950s and captivated audiences well into the '90s. Born in Georgia, he moved to Chicago with his grandmother at the age of three. Reunited with his mother, she taught him to play the piano and took him to the symphony. Though tuberculosis slowed him...
Full Bio