Phineas: The Living Legend – James Williams
The earlier of James Williams' two tributes to Phineas Newborn, Jr., is a tricky uptempo workout on the changes of Stompin' At The Savoy. It comes from James' first trio album as a leader.
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- Recording: James Williams - The Arioso Touch
- Recorded on: February, 1982
- Label: Concord Jazz (CJ 192)
- Concert Key: D-flat
- Vocal Range: , to
- Style: Swing (uptempo)
- Piano - James Williams
- Bass - Buster Williams
- Drums - Billy Higgins
On the A section the melody is mostly eighth-note lines, including a couple of sequences of interval shapes transposed through the changes. The bridge alternates two measures of rhythmic hits with two measures of drums; the last four measures have a pedal point on beats 2 and 4. The hits in the bridge add chromatic sequences of passing chords. Solos are on more basic Stompin' At The Savoy changes, except with a chromatic approach II-V7 (Em7-A7 to E♭m7-A♭7) added in the fifth measure.
This song has quite a wide range; we have separate B♭ lead sheets for trumpet and tenor sax. The latter goes up to high G♭—a half step out of the instrument's "standard" range—so the same note is also shown an octave lower with a small notehead to show an alternate option. The C bass clef lead sheet goes rather low; trombonists can experiment with taking some of the melody up an octave.
After Newborn's death, Williams wrote a second tribute, Fond Times With Junior . This latter song was also recorded with Billy Higgins on drums, on the tribute album "Four Pianos For Phineas."
Drummer Billy Higgins played on two other James Williams albums: "Up To The Minute Blues" in 1990, and "Classic Encounters" in 1998.
March 8, 1951 – July 20, 2004
James Williams' distinguished career began in the city in which he was raised: Memphis, Tennessee. Having taken up piano at the age of thirteen, he graduated from Memphis State University in the early seventies and threw himself into his city's jazz community. Only a year after attaining his degree, Williams was hired as a professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Coming to a new city opened up an entirely new scene for the young pianist, who began to play as a sideman for visiting artists like Red Norvo, Art Farmer, Sonny Stitt and Milt Jackson. When Art Blakey met him in 1977, he convinced the then-26 year-old Williams to resign from Berklee and go on tour with the Jazz Messengers, a post he held for the next four years and with whom he would win a Grammy Award nomination for the album "Straight Ahead." Read more...