Roger Williams

Roger Williams

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Roger Williams' third, self-titled album for Kapp was his breakthrough featuring the number one smash from the summer of 1955, "Autumn Leaves." Backed by Glenn Osser's dramatic strings, the 30 year old's rippling piano sounds are a dynamic contrast as well as complement to the "full, rich orchestra" described in the liner notes. On Gershwin's "Summertime" the accompaniment stays back and lets Roger show some technique, a bit of restraint before he dazzles with elaborate notes and simply gorgeous chords adding something extra to the familiar material. Hammerstein's "Wanting You" went Top 40 about five months after "Autumn Leaves" with "La Mer" doing the same two months later. This version of "Beyond the Sea" hit almost two years before Bobby Darin would take the same melody Top Ten in 1960. The album cover's dark aqua color scheme over a Jerry Tiffany photo of the artist became a familiar jacket in the mid- to late '50s and early '60s and was a pretty good reflection of the music inside. He uses the piano like a harpsichord on "Wanting You," reworking the tune from a 1928 musical, The New Moon. "The River Seine" dances with flourishes Liberace often embraced -- one of the two songs where Roger "duets" with himself via multitracking -- while Signorelli's "Big Town" exposes Williams' jazz leanings better than perhaps any other tune here. His own composition, "Night Wind," displays elements of other popular material while "Singing in the Rain" and Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" round out the LP, which opened the floodgates for the popular pianist.

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