Joe Williams

Live in Vegas

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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.