Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Claude Williams Always Was Swinging The Blues

Claude Williams' Swinging the Blues on Bullseye Blues & Jazz, is certainly a release for loves of blues-laced, swinging jazz. Williams' recording career goes back to the twenties when he was with Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joys. A member of Count Basie's Band when Basie left Kansas City, he was replaced as guitarist by Freddie Greene. He can be heard on some radio airchecks of the Basie Band. 

In more recent years, his recordings with Jay MacShann on a Canadian album, The Man From Muskogee, helped lead to a revival in his career. Today he no longer doubles on guitar and fiddle, sticking to the latter, and in recent years he has produced a number of highly regarded albums for Progressive and Arhoolie, among other labels. He also was a recipient of a Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Swinging the Blues finds him backed by a terrific band that includes pianist Henry Butler and the great  bassist Keter Betts. They play a wonderful collection of ballads and blues including Duke Ellington's blues Things Ain't What They Used to Be, the classic Kansas City rearranging of You're Driving Me Crazy - Moten Swing, the classic blues ballad, Gee Baby Ain't I Good to you along with a wonderful rendition of These Foolish Things

Over 90, Claude Williams shows no signs of slowing down, and with the terrific combo here, has produced a delightful recording. 

I likely received a review copy from Rounder Records and the review likely appeared in the DC Blues Calendar back in 2000. Here he is in performance.

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