January 22nd – Joe Williams – Memories Of You

OK – so this one’s a bit marmite. Singers and organs – love ‘em? Hate ‘em?.

I’m actually posting this to celebrate the Japanese release of one rarish and another very hard to find Joe Williams/Count Basie album.  I wanted to post something from the really obscure one, Just The Blues, which is brilliant and you really should own.  However, YouTube insisted on blocking it in some 237 countries (copyright, you know) so there would have been little point.  The track I first uploaded, Trav’lin’ Light, is probably the best version of the song after Billie’s and certainly the saddest so get that album.

This one is from an unusual date – Joe, a small group and the Count on organ.  It also features some nice, if short, solos from Freddie Green (although not here, sadly).

I think the organ thing works quite well here – mainly because the Count follows his usual rule of never playing three notes when one well-chosen one will do.  The album is also interesting in that it marks the early stages of Joe’s attempts to break away from being ‘just’ a blues singer and to explore the whole gamut of Tin Pan Alley.  Basie wasn’t, by all accounts, entirely sympathetic to his ambitions so this album represents something of a concession and recognitions of his band singer’s extraordinary talent.  It presages Joe’s move into, for example, full blown ballad singing in the early 60s.

Memories of You is also the title of a brilliant Mark Murphy album paying tribute to Joe – check that one out as well.