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Claude “Fiddler” Williams: Swingin’ the Blues

Anyone who’s seen Bruce Ricker’s classic film Last of the Blue Devils vividly recalls its images of Count Basie, Joe Turner, Buster Smith, Jay McShann and a swinging cast of hundreds. And, oh yeah, how about that swinging fiddle man. For some, that film served as an introduction to enduring Kansas City blues and jazz master Claude “Fiddler” Williams. Here’s a man who made some of his earliest recordings with Andy Kirk’s 12 Clouds of Joy-over seven decades ago! And from the clear evidence of this delightful date, he’s still going strong with no sign of let-up.

The veteran’s assured, relaxed, swinging approach is intact, as is the lush string tone. All are second nature, as Fiddler approaches the music with a sure-handed, sheer knowingness that serves music and listener in equal and delightful measure. The music is a program largely dominated by old war-horses, delivered by the estimable cast of Keter Betts’ bass, Henry Butler’s piano, Joe Cohn’s guitar, Jimmy Lovelace’s drums and a guest shot from a K.C. “youngster”-by comparison-alto saxman Bobby Watson.

Originally Published