Joe Williams, the man "New Yorker" magazine has called "the greatest living big band singer," will play at Manhattan's Rainbow & Stars Oct. 1 Oct 26. Music director Norman Simmons will lead the four-piece backing band for Williams' debut at the ritzy Rockefeller Center night spot.
In his review for the New York Daily News (Oct. 3), Gene Santoro asserted that a recent erratic streak in Joe Williams' voice was nowhere to be found in this concert. "Williams warmed up the room with his charm, humor, grace and chops."
The 77 year old singer centered his set around the blues -- a set Santoro termed, "loose as a goose and full of juice."
After starting with Coleman Hawkins' Big Band, followed by Lionel Hampton, Williams joined Count Basie's septet in 1950. His huge success there led to thirty albums, a star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame, and a role as Grandpa on TV's "The Cosby Show."
At his Rainbow gig, Williams is expected to do several songs from his new Telarc Jazz CD, "Here's To Life." That collection includes such numbers as Duke Ellington/Sidney Russell's "I Didn't Know About You," Johnny Mandel/Paul Webster's "A Time For Love," George Weiss/Rob Thiele's "What A Wonderful World," and the title track, by Artie Butler/Phyllis Molinari. Backing Williams will be Norman Simmons on piano, Lyle Atkinson on bass, Joe Temperley on sax, and Tim Horner on drums.
For tickets and information, call (212)632-5000.
-- By David Lefkowitz