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Every Day: The Best of the Verve Years

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Album Review

In effect, this double-disc set, released in anticipation of Joe Williams' 75th birthday, is two compilation albums in one. The first CD, containing material recorded between 1955 and 1957, presents the artist singing with Count Basie and His Orchestra at the start of Williams' national career, when he and Basie scored a major R&B hit with the title song and made albums like Count Basie Swings/Joe Williams Sings, One O'Clock Jump, and The Greatest! Count Basie Swings/Joe Williams Sings Standards. Along with The Count Basie Band and the Dizzy Gillespie Band at Newport, these provide most of the selections included, among them memorable Williams performances such as "Teach Me Tonight," "I'm Beginning to See the Light," and "The Comeback." The second CD chronicles Williams' return to Verve Records in the years 1987 to 1990, for such albums as Every Night and Ballad and Blues Master, both of which were recorded live May 7-8, 1987, at the Vine St. Bar and Grill in Hollywood. So, we have the (relatively) young Williams and a much older Williams towards the end of his career. In both cases, however, he displays considerable dexterity in his blues-tinged jazz singing, and he gets tremendous support from his instrumentalists. The 30-year gap from one disc to another prevents this from being a definitive look at his career, but for the periods covered the anthology is well-chosen.

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...
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