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Valdo Williams: "New Advanced Jazz" (Savoy, 1966)


Rooster_Ties
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On what was one of Savoy's later jazz releases (by the 1960s it had become largely a gospel label), the obscure pianist Valdo Williams (in a trio with bassist Reggie Johnson and drummer Stewart Martin) performs four of his originals. Williams' only other recordings were in 1953 with Charlie Parker (on a Canadian television show) and a 1963 date with Hal Singer. He plays quite differently on this Savoy CD reissue, performing free jazz that has a strong forward movement and generally swings. Collectors of adventurous jazz should pick up this CD quickly before it disappears. — Scott Yanow

So, what's this like?? Never heard of Williams before. According to the AMG, this was his one album as a leader, and he's only listed as a sideman on two Charlie Parker recordings, and mentioned as being on a Hal Singer date in 1963. Is that really his entire recorded output??

What's the story??

Edited by Rooster_Ties
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I have this in a Japanese mini-LP format (COCB 50614).

4 original Williams compositions (44 minutes total playing time).

Recorded Dec. 20, 1966.

Intricate trio interplay. Not sure what happened to him.

He appeared to be trying to extend beyond be-bop conventions.

I like it.

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I like it too. It's described a keeper in this months Jazz Review by writer Roger Thomas. "I'll hang on to this and jettison a Don Pullen album or six instead".

If you think of early Cecil Taylor you are in the right area.

Edited by JohnS
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Valdo Williams was one of those almost forgotten jazz artists who had a strong impact on their contemporaries but who never came out of the shadow. Jackie McLean says he was very influential on him ca. 1948. Here is an excerpt from a Down Beat article :

"Writers and musicians sometimes talk as if only major players leave the big footprints. But minor players can be key influences, too. Jackie mentions two he knew from his old Harlem neighborhood. By example Ernie Henry (...) Less known was Valdo Williams. In the late '40's, says Jackie, "He was the first guy playing kind of free concept rather than Thelonious, who I thought was always freer then everybody else, even back then. Valdo's solos were very close to what you hear Cecil Taylor playing. When he played a song like 'All The Things You Are,' a blues, or whatever, he would play the correct chords, and accompany all the soloists in the traditional way. But when his solo came, he would stretch out and play against the form. If it was a 36-bar form, he would fill up 36 bars with his chorus, but it wouldn't be based directly on the chords. He would be playing much freer, freer than anybody I'd heard at the tim." Williams left New York for Montreal in the early 50's." (Down Beat, october 90, p. 22)

In an interview with Ben Sidran, McLean says that Sonny Rollins used to know Valdo Williams too.

Edited by Vincent, Paris
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never heard of this cat either, sounds interesting. I think that if this was revealed to anyone that maybe a lesser known player was dabbling in innovations that a more famous player is credited for it may be controversial, similar to how Jimmy Smith on the organ, has been cited by Joey Defrancesco, and others as doing some of the modal type and sheets of sound stuff Trane was doing.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...

Thanks to couw for a reminder about this disc in another thread (Relatively-progressive piano trio recs in the 60's, And why none on Blue Note??? (1963-69)).

I just found one real cheap at half.com ($10.32, brand new, still sealed, and that includes shipping). I'll let y'all know what I think of it when it gets here in about 5 days or so. Thanks couw!!!

Edited by Rooster_Ties
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  • 3 weeks later...

It's good enough as a session.

The piano playing is a little heavy handed, a bit like Tapscott but without Horace's sense of control. Bass is excellent, drummer could be more imaginative. Tunes are too long as well, still listening though, so this isn't a definative view yet :P

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  • 11 months later...

By the way, I never did get back to posting in this thread after I got this on disc. GREAT session. Very loose and tight, all at the same time. Exceeded my expectations by quite a margin. Wish there was more by Williams, especially as a sideman with other interesting players. Reminds me of Hasaan Ibn Ali, a bit, and not just cuz they're both obscure.

Edited by Rooster_Ties
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Hey - I just came up with this off of Switchboard:

Valdo Williams

1261 5th Ave,

New York, NY 10029-3822

(212) 828-1961

I'll give him a call tomorrow - no kidding - I like doing this kind of stuff, and if it's the same guy he'll probably be thrilled that there are people still thinking about him -

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