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After playing with Benny Goodman for a year, Williams led his own bands from 1942 until 1959 and employed some of the hot young players of the day such as Bud Powell, Arnett Cobb, “Lockjaw” Davis, and Eddie Vinson before veering off into R&B in the later years. One of the band’s first recordings featured Pearl Bailey on vocals.
Williams collaborated with Thelonious Monk on “Round Midnight,” introducing it in 1944 when it became the band’s theme song. In 1948 when times became tough for big bands, Williams reduced the group to a sextet that played the Savoy Ballroom for eleven years. He and Ellington cornetist Rex Stewart recorded two successful albums in 1957 and 1958, The Big Challenge and Porgy and Bess Revisited. He rejoined Ellington in 1962 and stayed with the band even after Duke’s death in 1974 when son Mercer Ellington took over.
- Sandra Burlingame
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The World of Duke Ellington
Da Capo Press
(Includes Cootie Williams)
Duke Ellington - Live at the Tivoli Gardens (1971)
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