Cootie Williams & His Orchestra
Release Date: 1995
Other notable musicians in this CD:
label(s): Okeh, Hit, Columbia, CBS
Number of sessions: 6
Unissued materials: Yes (two rejected tracks from Okeh label)
Track Highlights: Blue Garden Blues, Sweet Lorraine, 'Round Midnight, Fly Right, West End Blues.
Other Ratings: Allmusic 4 1/2 (from 5), Penguin Guide 3 1/2 (from 4)
Other issue or reissues:
1941-1944 (Jazz Archives, 1996)
Echoes of Harlem (Pearl, 1996)
About the period: Sometime around 1940 Cootie Williams left Duke Ellington's band and this gave a cat like Raymond Scott to write a tune by the name of “when cootie left duke”. This was the impact of cootie’s style and personality as far as the horn was concerned. He worked for a year with the Benny Goodman band and then decided to establish his own big band unit. This was financially a fluff but musically it was a band that apart from having the master himself had name trumpeters like Emmett Perry who worked with Dizz and George Treadwell and Eddie Vinson and Sam Taylor. All in all it was a marvelous band and laterwards introduced people like Bud Powell and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis to the jazz world. Cootie’s talent-scouting went further with the experimental work with the compositions of a cat like Monk, who was utterly unknown back in the mid-forties. Downbeat writer, Frank Stacy, wrote back in February 1944 about “the astounding trumpet section” and the solo work of the Sam “the man” Taylor. Cootie was crowned as the king of them all trumpet players of the time with “the most solid tone, phrasing, unique ideas and what not”. There’s the very famous number, written by Duke for Cootie back in 1936, that was originally carrying the name of “concerto for cootie”. At the end of 1946 it had become a matter of financial burden for master Williams to keep on going with the idea of having a band of his own. He was forced to cut it to a combo format. He almost disappeared in coming years from the actual jazz scene to return to Ellington orchestra around early sixties.
The three Cootie Williams sets from the “Classics” series were my first introduction to the label. It was “love at the first note” and the beginning of my long obsession with Cootie’s sound. And when recently a friend asked me if I be compelled to pick one, and only one, jazz musician for the rest of my life; who would it be? I answered him without a moment of uncertainty: Cootie Williams.
The Album: The Classics compilations do not include material recorded under any other leader, so the tracks with Lionel Hampton's band or Barney Bigard's Jazzopators (previously available on Topaz compilation -- see other issues section) are not included.
As so often in this valuable and clearly documented series, one is apt to be distracted from the leader's achievement by early sightings of soon-to-be-important players. Bud Powell's appearance with the Cootie Williams Orchestra marked an important phase in his career, and the band also made the first recordings of two Thelonious Monk compositions, 'Fly Rifgt' (AKA Epistrophy) and 'Round Midnight,' the latter from the August date. Cootie's own contribuatin go their growling, alternately chipper and sombre, way.
- May 7th, 1941 New York
Cootie Williams; Lou McGarity (t)/ Les Robinson(asax); Skippy Martin(barsax) / Johnny Guarnieri(p) / Artie Bernstein(b) / Jo Jones (d)
West End Blues (King Oliver, Williams)
Ain't Misbehavin' (Brooks, Razaf, Waller)
Blues in My Condition (Williams)
- April 1st, 1942 Chicago
Cootie Williams; Milton Fraser; Joe Guy(t)/ Louis Bacon(t, Voc Track: 6) / Jonas Walker; Robert Horton; Sandy Williams (tb) / Charley Holmes(as)/Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson(as, Voc Track: 7)/ Bob Dorsey; Greely Walton(ts)/John Williams(Barsax) / Kenny Kersey(P) / Norman Keenan(B) /George “Butch” Ballard (d)
Sleepy Valley (Unknown)
When My Baby Left Me (Vinson, Williams)
Fly Right (Epistrophy) (Clarke, Monk)
- January 4th, 1944 New York
You Talk a Little Trash (Williams)
Floogie Boo (Vinson, Williams)
I Don't Know (Vinson, Williams)
Do Some War Work, Baby (Williams) Cootie sings in this track!
- January 6th, 1944 New York
My Old Flame (Coslow, Johnston)
Sweet Lorraine (Burwell, Parish)
Echoes of Harlem (Ellington)
Honeysuckle Rose (Razaf, Waller)
- January 6th, 1944 New York
Now I Know (Arlen, Koehler)
Tess's Torch Song (I Had a Man) (Arlen, Koehler)
Cherry Red Blues (Haggart)
Things Ain't What They Used to Be (Ellington, Persons)
- August 22nd, 1944 New York
Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby? (Austin, Jordan) Vocal: Eddie Vinson
Somebody's Gotta Go (Haggart) Vocal: Eddie Vinson
'Round Midnight (Hanighen, Monk, Williams)
Blue Garden Blues (Royal Garden Blues) (Williams)
All recordings under the title of "Cootie Williams and His Orchestra." Total Time: 72:44