James Williams

  • New standards to play all summer

    Summer is heating up -- and with new lead sheets and arrangements, things are hotter than ever at jazzleadsheets.com. This week, we're welcoming new composer Sara Cassey, whose beautiful pieces are a favorite of those in the know. Be sure to check out our Recording Anniversaries video to hear the great music we're celebrating every day this week. And if you're looking for a piece to play with your quintet or sextet, check out our Quintet/Sextet list, which you can navigate to by clicking FEATURES then "Quintet/Sextet."

    JAMES WILLIAMS: Alter Ego A subtle, classic bossa nova

    SARA CASSEY: Windflower A subdued & meditative minor blues variation. Full arrangement available.

    BOOKER LITTLE: Bee Vamp A vamp-based uptempo swing. Full arrangement available.

    BOOKER LITTLE: Aggression Open-ended and forward-thinking.

    KENNY DREW: Callin' A hard bop swinger with a short form.

    Plus, celebrate Philly Joe Jones with a special treat! When you visit his composer page, you can hear a clip of Philly Joe telling his favorite joke.

  • New in March

    We’re back with another batch of new releases! This week, we’re featuring the compositions of some of our favorite pianists of yesterday and today. From hard bop to modern jazz, these pieces are sure to inspire and excite you, no matter what instrument you play.

    LOW TIDE by Elmo Hope: An unconventional swing with an easy melody but a surprising harmonic progression over eight bars. Available as a lead sheet, quintet edition, or solo piano arrangement.

    STAIRWAY TO THE STEINWAY by Freddie Redd: Get ready for some fun on this whirlwind head — a little bit of this sunny, upbeat piece will be sure to take away any residual winter blues.

    BEAUTY WITHIN by James Williams: Celebrate your own beauty within! This magnificent ballad has such unusual soloing changes that it’s bound to bring out the best in your improvisation. Available as a lead sheet or solo piano arrangement — plus an exclusive audio track featuring Kenny Drew Jr.!

    SONG FROM WITHIN by Michael Cochrane: A lyrical, meditative ballad that will have you humming for days. Available as a lead sheet or solo piano arrangement.

    Plus, a bonus! Sevens by Roland Alexander — as a lead sheet or a drum transcription of the incomparable Charli Persip!

    We hope you love these charts as much as we do! Let us know how you like them by tweeting us — @jazzleadsheets.

  • end-of-2013 additions from jazzleadsheets.com

    Here are our last additions to jazzleadsheets for 2013. We’re looking forward to adding many more, plus new features, in 2014. We can't wait to see you then! And we wish you a Happy New Year.

    Freddie Redd’s sunny Latin So, Samba! celebrates its 25th recording anniversary. It’s a lot of fun with one melody instrument, and it was first recorded as a quintet arrangement so second parts are also available.

    The beautiful ballad Dark Beauty by Kenny Drew, trio & quintet versions with second parts, plus Drew’s piano arrangement from his original manuscript.

    Arioso, James Williams’ soaring melody, plus his solo piano arrangement recorded by Kenny Drew, Jr.

    J.R. Monterose’s lilting Waltz For Claire, a quartet version.

    New composer Grachan Moncur III debuts with Riff Raff, from Jackie McLean’s “Destination … Out!” Blue Note album, plus Grachan’s trombone solo.

    A memorable & delightful vocal, All Because Of You, from new composer/pianist/organist/vocalist Rob Bargad.

  • New! EASY PIANO for beginning jazz lovers!

    If you love jazz piano, but aren’t quite at the level of our solo transcriptions, we’re releasing arrangements of our classics to accommodate pianists of all ages and abilities! These arrangements aren’t watered-down—they stay true to the original melody and harmonies—but aren’t overly intimidating, either. They make a great introduction for new students, classical pianists, or even someone looking to just have fun playing music.

    Three arrangements by site founder/trumpeter/arranger Don Sickler FOCUS by James Williams

    SOCIAL CALL by Gigi Gryce

    UH HUH by Hank Mobley

    One arrangement by vocalist/pianist/composer Pamela Baskin-Watson JOY RIDE by Bobby Timmons

    Two arrangements by pianist/composer Cecilia Coleman PECKIN’ TIME by Hank Mobley

    BOOTIN’ IT by Sonny Clark

    And some play-along tutorials featuring BOOTIN’ IT on our YouTube channel: BOOTIN' IT slowed down to practice

    BOOTIN' IT at full speed

    Check out our PIANO CORNER where all the above plus more can be found under EASY PIANO ARRANGEMENTS.

  • new December lead sheets

    Here are some new titles:

    400 Years Ago Tomorrow - Walter Davis Jr.

    I was asked several months ago for this lead sheet, so first of all I apologize for the delay. Walter was such a great composer, always with his own distinctive voice. As I’m sure you can tell from the audio clip, this is a great one! Pianists, note that Geoff Keezer’s Solo Piano Arrangement is also available, along with a recording by Kenny Drew, Jr.

    Focus - James Williams

    The first recording of Focus, a duo recording with bassist Dennis Irwin, was made before James started recording as a Jazz Messenger with Art Blakey. I discuss the four recordings James made of this composition in my notes, and I’m now on a mission to see if I can get James’ last duo recording (in 2000) made available as a download.

    Pensive - Al Cohn

    This beautiful ballad is the first of many compositions by Al Cohn that we’ll be bringing to jazzleadsheets.com.

    Sadly, I attended trombonist and composer Eddie Bert’s memorial service at St. Peters Church in NYC on December 17, 2012. Eddie was a great musician and a good friend. I played and toured with him many times over the years, and of course heard great stories from him, and about him. As you can learn from his bio on jazzleadsheets, and from the notes on his composition Speedster, Eddie was an accomplished musician.

    Since we’re making Speedster available, I see it’s a perfect time to add a new and beautiful Gigi Gryce composition, In A Meditating Mood, because Eddie recorded it as well.

    If you read my notes for these lead sheets you’ll get the picture, and you’ll see there are some unanswered questions. Was Eddie on this Gryce session? If we could see Eddie’s “session cards” (he made notes of every session he was on), I’m sure we’d have answers.

    Another thing that’s confusing to many of us: this isn’t the album title we know! We know it as “Like Cool.”

    After trombonist/bandleader Art Baron’s rehearsal at my studio over this last weekend, he overheard me talking to saxophonist Jerry Dodgion about Eddie Bert, and he wanted to know if we wanted to hear one of his Eddie Bert stories? Of course we said yes. It turns out the very first jazz record Art was ever given was Eddie’s “Like Cool” album, a later reissue of the “Let’s Dig Bert” album. It was the beginning of Art’s passion for jazz. He showed me his album, which had a cover with icicles on it, when he played at the Memorial service.

    Like Art, I was introduced to Eddie’s recording from a “Like Cool” reissue. I forgot to show Art my copy, but I think mine (which had an image of ice cubes on the cover) was an even later reissue than his. Are there more reissues with different covers? I now know about four covers for the same album: “Let’s Dig Bert (Eddie, That Is)” with the steam shovel or a portrait of Eddie playing trombone; “Like Cool” with icicles in a forest or ice cubes with a trombone. I hope one of you might have, or know someone who has, the original Essex issue so I can confirm the first cover. Email me (don@secondfloormusic.com) what you know.

    --Don Sickler

  • October 15, 2011 ballads and more

    I’m a sucker for a great ballad, and this time three out of the five new compositions on jazzleadsheets are exactly that, ballads. They’re written by three great pianists, from three different generations, who are all known for their sensitivity as artists. It’s not surprising that the music is wonderful. I encourage everyone to check out our audio excerpts.

    Because the excerpts start at the beginning of the melodies, you don’t get an indication of the form of the compositions. Renaissance Lovers by James Williams is a beautiful continuously developing 12-measure melody. Richard WyandsWillow Tree spins out over 24 measures (ABA form), as does Cecilia Coleman’s 32-measure (AABA) Posie.

    If you listen to the intro of the recording of Charles Fambrough’s Alycia, where pianist Kenny Kirkland plays the C section of the AABC melody in a rubato ballad style, you could easily think that it’s also going to be a ballad, but Charles conceived it as a bossa. Of course, it could be performed as a ballad, as well.

    Our last composition this time is Ray Bryant’s Pawn Ticket, which is definitely not a ballad. It’s full of Ray’s wit and energy and will definitely put a smile on your face.

    --Don Sickler

  • 12/29/10 new from jazzleadsheets.com

    Prince Albert - Kenny Dorham A classic melody by Kenny Dorham based on the chord progression of the standard All The Things You Are, plus classic solos (transcribed) by Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley from the classic Blue Note recording of the then-new quintet ready to explode on the scene in 1955. The Jazz Messengers, with Horace Silver on piano, Doug Watkins on bass, and Art Blakey on drums.

    Reflections In Blue - James Williams Pianist James Williams was part of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1978, (actually he was a Jazz Messenger from 1977 through 1981.) The 1978 Messengers also featured trumpeter Valery Ponomarev, saxophonists Bobby Watson and David Schnitter, and bassist Dennis Irwin. Williams wrote this composition to feature the “patented” Art Blakey shuffle.

    Lite-Flite - Kenny Drew This was recorded with Thad Jones on cornet and Bob Berg on tenor sax, George Mraz on bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums, and, of course, Kenny Drew on piano. Besides an exciting uptempo tune to play, I think of it as a great etude for working on “changes” (see my notes).

    Meant To Be! - Ray Bryant & Fleurine (vocal) The vocal version of Ray Bryant’s Chicken An’ Dumplins, with lyric by Dutch vocalist/lyricist Fleurine. Our version is performed by vocalist Tina May and the composer himself, Ray Bryant, on piano. The only time Ray has ever recorded his own composition—and the complete MP3 recording is available only here.

    De Critifeux - Jack Wilson After giving you the blistering tour de force of Jack Wilson’s Jackleg a few weeks ago, we want to next introduce you to the medium up tempo side of this marvelous piano/composer. Lead sheets plus piano arrangement.

    Happy Holidays! Don Sickler

  • Three new composers

    Hello, music fans. For this week’s jazzleadsheets.com releases, I decided it would be fun to compare compositions by two gifted pianist/composers from Second Floor Music. The compositions start out with some definite similarities, but develop very differently. A Touching Affair by James Williams (first recorded in 1984) vs. Flamands by Don Friedman (first recorded in 1995)

    —- melodic similarities Both composers love the minor key, and they both started their compositions with a vamping piano/bass figure. Another striking similarity is the rhythmic shape and melodic contour of the opening phrase of each melody. This is where the similarity ends. Don’s opening G minor melodic phrase moves from the 5th up to the minor 7th then down to the 11th, while James’ opening F-sharp minor melodic phrase moves from the root up to the minor third then down to the minor 7th. —- melodic phrase development Don repeats the opening phrase melody, then keeps the melody almost intact, but in F minor. James develops his opening phrase over twelve measures. Interestingly, Don’s melody was originally spread over twelve measures when he first recorded it on his “Almost Everything” session. On his “Straight Ahead” session it’s developed over sixteen measures.

    You Never Leave My Mind by James Williams and Marc Ostrow This is the lyric version of A Touching Affair. It’s in a different, female friendly key. In addition to the vocal lead sheet, an accompaniment-only track is available, complete with full chorus (long form) solo section. Besides being a great composer and pianist, James Williams was also a champion for many other artists. He introduced me to Bobby Watson, Billy Pierce (and the other musicians on “Alter Ego”) and later, Donald Brown, Geoff Keezer and many other great artists.

    Horizon Reassembled by Bobby Watson The “Horizon Reassembled” CD reunites the exact same personnel that recorded together in 1991 and 1993. You can find more info about Horizon in the Historical Notes for this composition. Also, I want to mention that Second Floor Music has quite a few Bobby Watson “Horizon” combo arrangements available. Search by Recording Leader for "Bobby Watson & Horizon" on SecondFloorMusic.com. I’ve always loved Bobby’s music. He definitely has a strong compositional voice that is easy to recognize. Look for more of his compositions on jazzleadsheets.com soon.

    Sunset by Kenny Drew Kenny Drew is probably most known as one of the great rhythm section pianists. It’s hard to find artists that he didn’t record with. He’s also a gifted composer, and we’re introducing him on jazzleadsheets.com with one of his beautiful ballads. Kenny Drew is also the father of another exceptional pianist/composer, Kenny Drew, Jr., who is already represented in jazzleadsheets.com. Obviously, two Kenny Drew’s can be confusing, but we’ll try to make that confusion worthwhile as we bring you more of their great music.

    Thanks for visiting jazzleadsheets.com Don Sickler

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