Louisiana-born pianist Clarence Williams presided over an enormous number of blues and jazz sessions in and around New York City during two decades of activity which began in 1921. His massive output has been reissued on several labels, most thoroughly by Classics across fourteen chronologically presented volumes. Released by Timeless in 2001, two double disc editions examine his activity during the middle 1930s, with volume one zeroing in on 1933-'34. Williams was an accomplished promoter and organizer who collaborated with some of the greatest musicians of his generation. Certain recordings preserved on this collection feature master pianists James P Johnson, Willie "The Lion" Smith and Herman Chittison. Some of the groups are propelled by percussionist Floyd Casey, who handled washboards and drums with equal facility. At times Williams is heard huffing away on a ceramic jug and Roy Smeck plays steel guitar on the "St. Louis Blues". Other noteworthy participants are tuba tamer Cyrus St. Clair, Banjo Ikey Robinson and trumpeter Charlie Gaines, who in March 1929 recorded with the first group ever to be billed as Fats Waller and his Buddies. Cornetist Ed Allen and reedman Cecil Scott were regular participants in sessions led by Williams, and you‘ll also want to listen for New Orleans clarinetist Albert Nicholas. Vocalists include Williams, his wife Eva Taylor, Ed Allen, white pop singers Chick Bullock and Dick Robertson and Little Buddy Farrior, about whom little or nothing is known. Probably the nicest surprise in this set is the presence of alto saxophonist Louis Jordan, regarded today as a pioneer of rhythm and blues. One of his first recorded vocals, "I Can't Dance, I Got Ants in My Pants" is included here. In 1936 Jordan replaced Edgar Sampson in the reed section of Chick Webb's orchestra, where Ella Fitzgerald inspired him to further develop his skills as a vocalist.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2