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Live in Las Vegas

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Album Review

This previously unreleased set features Joe Williams at a late-night performance in Las Vegas. Very well-recorded, the music offers few surprises but finds the singer in prime form. Although the Count Basie Orchestra backs him on most selections, the personnel is not listed, there are no significant solos, and Basie himself is probably not on most of the tracks. The breezy liner notes say that "John Young, pianist extraordinaire," sat in during "Midnight Medley" (four ballads and "Thou Swell") and "Going to Chicago"; is this the Chicago-based player of the early '60s? Highlights include an animated "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out" (during which Williams really tells a story with the words), "Going to Chicago" (on this version he sings all of the famous big band riffs along with his regular vocal), and the joyous "Smack Dab in the Middle." This is an excellent recording, easily recommended to Joe Williams fans.

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 down as a teenager, Williams began performing at social events and formed his own gospel vocal quartet, the Jubilee Boys. By...
Full Bio

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