William Randall

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A stalwart of the Chicago jazz scene and a multi-instrumentalist as well as arranger, composer, and bandleader, William Randall seems to have done a slow fade from public view which began with a transition…
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A stalwart of the Chicago jazz scene and a multi-instrumentalist as well as arranger, composer, and bandleader, William Randall seems to have done a slow fade from public view which began with a transition into part-time playing status in the '60s. Behind him were at least three decades of total commitment. Randall began to tour in the early '30s and as a young player was associated with many of the Chicago jazz bandleaders who made names for themselves in this era. The most repeated name in Randall's itinerary was Earl Hines, however. Randall's musical portrait of Hines, "Father Steps In," was frequently on that band's set list and is available for scrutiny on at least a half dozen Hines reissue collections.

Furthermore, Randall's discography is pretty much full-out Hines. Randall had two long opportunities to participate in this pianist and bandleader's entertaining innovations, first from 1936 through 1939 and then from 1940 until 1942. In between were some moments with Horace Henderson, who worked in a quite similar style and was also happy to make use of Randall's arranging skills. These talents as well as his reed playing went pretty much on hiatus during the Second World War, Randall throwing his energy into defense plant labor, then Army service. The peacetime Randall worked on a basis more local to Chicago during the '50s, leading his own groups and stuffing their music stands with his original treatments.