When someone such as Joe Williams (not be confused with Big Joe Williams) speaks of himself in one breath with the blues, then he is claiming a privilege, which can only be granted to a very few. But then - Williams, who grew up in the blues metropolis Chicago and performed as early as the Thirties with Jimmie Noones and later with Coleman Hawkins and Lionel Hampton, is one of the first and last of the great big band singers at one and the same time. As one of the permanent great musicians of the Count Basie Band, he helped the ensemble to renewed popularity in the Fifties, but then turned his attention to smaller bands, returning in later years to the all-star ensemble as a 'special guest'.
"Me And The Blues" manifests itself as blues from a modern viewpoint in that it amalgamates the austere, gritty primeval sound of the Southside with a brilliantly arranged big band sound. The result of this extremely pure synthesis of sound (also from a technical standpoint) reveals a variety of blues that integrates such elements of mainstream jazz as were typical of the day. It is no wonder therefore that all the great names such as Thad Jones, Clark Terry, Ben Webster and Kenny Burrell gathered together to participate as soloists or in the background in this recording.
Recording: 1964 in Webster Hall, New York, by Ray Hall
Production: George Avakian