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John Thms. Williams (1929-2018)

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John Thomas Williams
John Thomas Williams, a spritied jazz pianist strongly influenced by Bud Powell and Horace Silver who recorded with the Stan Getz Quintet in the early 1950s before recording his two sole leadership albums for EmArcy in 1954 and '55, died on December 15. He was 89.

Born in Windsor, Vt., Williams began as a church organist and played baritone horn in the Army before spending a semester at the Manhattan School of Music. In the 1940s, he joined Mal Hallett's band, which brought him to New York, and by the late 1940s, Williams was playing in Johnny Bothwell's band, which included top-flight players. In 1951 and '52, he played in an Army band during the Korean War. Discharged in 1953, Williams toured and recorded with Getz on his early Clef and Norgran recordings with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer.

Williams also was on key recordings led by Med Flory, Nick Travis, Bill De Arango, Charlie Mariano and Cannonball Adderley, among others. But Williams was best known for his trio recordings as a leader on EmArcy. Today, these can be found on a single release here. Starting in the 1960s, Williams became a banker and eventually became a city commissioner in Hollywood, Fla., before recording two albums in the 1990s.

Here are 10 terrific recordings by John Thomas Williams:

Here's Williams with Stan Getz in 1953 playing Have You Met Miss Jones... 



Here's Williams with guitarist Sal Salvador in 1953 playing Gone With the Wind...



Here's Williams in Med Flory's big band in 1954 playing Med's arrangement of Straight Ahead...



Here's Williams with trumpter Nick Travis in 1954 playing Nick;s Knacks with Al Cohn on tenor saxophone...

Nick's Knacks

Here's Williams with Cannonball Adderley in 1955 playing Willows...



Here's the John Williams Trio, with Bill Anthony (b) and Frank Isola (d), in 1954 playing For Heaven's Sake...



Here's Williams in another trio setting with Bill Anthony (b) and Jack Edie (d) playing Like Someone in Love...



Here's Williams with Chuck Andrus (b) and Frank Isola (d) playing Manteca...



Here's Williams with Bill Anthony (b) and Frank Isola (d) playing Be Careful It's My Heart...



And here's Williams with the Stan Getz Quinetet in 1953 playing Pot Luck...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

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