It was ice cold in Providence. The snowstorm on that night in ’64 was reaching record intensity. Still, a few stalwart souls bravely faced the elements to catch the late show at Pio’s, where the heat coming from the stage was full blast. The biggest voice in the business, Joe Williams, was fronting a quartet whose membership extended from brilliant (drummer Mickey Roker, bassist Bob Cranshaw) to blistering (pianist Junior Mance) to beyond category (Ben Webster blowing tenor sax). The repertoire was standard Williams’ fare-“Just a-Sittin’ and a-Rockin’,” “Kansas City Blues” and a double nod to Fats Waller with “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “Honeysuckle Rose”-blended with a couple of sweet surprises: “The Great City” and “That’s All,” the latter so new to Williams that he confessed he didn’t know all the lyrics.
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