Williams circa 1945-1955
|Birth name||Charles Melvin Williams|
|Born||July 10, 1911|
|Died||September 15, 1985(aged 74)|
|Genres||Jazz, jump blues, R&B|
|Associated acts||Duke Ellington|
Born in Mobile, Alabama, United States, Williams began his professional career with the Young Family band, which included saxophonist Lester Young, when he was 14 years old. In 1928, he made his first recordings with pianist James P. Johnson in New York, where he also worked briefly in the bands of Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson. He rose to prominence as a member of Duke Ellington's orchestra, with which he performed from 1929 to 1940. He also recorded his own sessions during this time, both freelance and with other Ellington sidemen. In 1940 he joined Benny Goodman's orchestra, a highly publicized move that caused quite a stir at the time (commemorated by Raymond Scott with the song "When Cootie Left the Duke"), then in 1941 formed his own orchestra, in which over the years he employed Charlie Parker, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Bud Powell, Eddie Vinson, and other important young players.
He began to play more rhythm and blues in the late 1940s. In the 1950s, he toured with small groups and fell into obscurity. In 1962, he rejoined Ellington and stayed with the orchestra until 1974, after Ellington's death. In 1975, he performed during the Super Bowl IX halftime show.
Cootie Williams was renowned for his growling "jungle" style trumpet playing (in the tradition of trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton) and for his use of the plunger mute, and was reputed to have inspired Wynton Marsalis's use of it.
Williams also sang occasionally, a notable vocal collaboration with Ellington was the piece, Echoes of the Jungle.
Williams is a 1991 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
According to Williams he got his nickname when, as a boy, his father took him to a band concert. When it was over his father asked him what he'd heard and the lad replied "Cootie,cootie, cootie".
Cootie Williams died in New York on September 15, 1985, at age 74.
- Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1941-44 (Classics, 1995)
- Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1945-46 (Classics, 1999)
- Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1946-49 (Classics, 2000)
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Robinson, J. Bradford (1994). "Williams, Cootie". In Barry Kernfeld. New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 1290. More than one of
- Visser, Joop (2001). "Disc Four - Take the A-Train". Duke Ellington - Masterpieces 1926-1949 (CD booklet). England: Proper. p. 39. PROPERBOX 25.
- Schenker, Anatol (1995). Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1941–1944 (CD booklet). France: Classics. p. 3. CLASSICS 827.
- "The Laugh is on Maestro Cootie". The Afro American. 3 May 1947. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
- email from Luigi Beverelli, Wynton Marsalis Enterprises, to Frank Paynter dated August 10, 2008.
- Curtis, Constance; Herndon, Cholie (30 April 1949). "Know your Boroughs Orchestra Men Talk About Show Business". The New York Amsterdam News. p. 15.
- Allmusic biography
- Cootie Williams at the Internet Movie Database
- Official website of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame