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Cootie Williams In Hi-Fi

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Album Review

With the possible exception of cornball trumpeter Clyde McCoy, nobody could impart humanistic sounds to a plunger mute like Cootie Williams. Certainly nobody could make a trumpet growl like he did, full of feral shrieks and blasts and vocal tones galore. As a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra during its heyday, Williams was big enough potatoes that when he left Ellington to join up with Benny Goodman in the early '40s, it prompted a tune titled "When Cootie Left the Duke." No two ways about it, the man could blow. As part of the 100th birthday celebration of all things Ellington, RCA is reissuing all the solo projects done by his famous sidemen. This 12-song album from 1958 — appended with 11 more that appeared as singles from the year before — shows that Williams' broad style was still mightily intact some 30 years after joining the Ellington fold. Unlike the other Ellington sidemen projects in this series, Williams performs on Cootie Williams in Hi-Fi with a full-blown big band, turning in swinging readings of such chestnuts as "Just in Time," "Summit Ridge Drive," and "My Old Flame." Oddly, these big-band sides don't honor the Duke musically except when Cootie and the band tackle old favorites like "Caravan." The non-album tracks are a varied lot. "Rinky Dink" sounds like a Bill Doggett outtake (and features some uncharacteristically bluesy rock & roll guitar from Kenny Burrell!); other tracks skirt the place where blues and R&B meet jazz, at the end of a dark alley. But just listen to that closing blast from Williams on "New Concerto for Cootie," which officially closed the original LP, and you'll know that Cootie Williams remained a Duke man to the end.


Born: July 10, 1911 in Mobile, AL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Cootie Williams, one of the finest trumpeters of the 1930s, expanded upon the role originally formed by Bubber Miley with Duke Ellington's Orchestra. Renowned for his work with the plunger mute, Cootie was also a fine soloist when playing open. Starting as a teenager, Cootie Williams played with a variety of local bands in the South, coming to New York with Alonzo Ross' Syncopators. He played for a short time with the orchestras of Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson (recording with the latter), before...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Cootie Williams

Cootie Williams In Hi-Fi, Cootie Williams
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  • $5.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 1958

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