When Cootie Left the Duke, Pt. III (Podcast #17-011)

Cootie disbanded his big band in 1947. This episode covers the period of 1947 up until 1962, the year Cootie rejoined Ellington.
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“…Benny Goodman, just back from Russia, persuaded [Cootie] Williams and Teddy Wilson to rejoin him. It was an amusing stint [Williams] recalled. “Sometimes Goodman would let you play,” he explained, “and other times he wouldn’t. He has his ways, as everyone knows. At Freedomland one night there was no bass player – he’d forgotten he’d fired him the evening before. Benny, though, is a great musician,” he laughed, “but I’d already been talking with Harry Carney. ‘Tell Duke,” I’d said, ‘that I’m ready to come back.'”

-from The World of Duke Ellington, by Stanley Dance


CW orch size

…and Cootie never led a big band again….

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Tour package posters featuring Cootie Williams and Dinah Washington


cootie and catherine

Cootie and his wife Catherine in Jet Magazine, issue dated 3 February 1955 


An illustration of Cootie’s appeal

The recordings heard on this podcast episode:

Dinah Washington

Resolution Blues ( CD: “Dinah Washington – The Queen Sings” Proper Records PROPERBOX 43)

Recorded 16 July 1947, New York City

Dinah Washington – vocal; Cootie Williams, Bob Merrill – trumpet; Rupert Cole – alto sax; William “Weasel” Parker – tenor sax; Arnold Jarvis, James Lowe – piano; Leonard “Heavy” Swain – bass; Sylvester Payne – drums.

CW Classics 1946-1949

(CD: “Cootie Williams and his Orchestra 1946-1949” Classics 1105)

Let ‘Em Roll Recorded 2 March 1949, New York City

Cootie Williams – trumpet; Bob Merrill – trumpet, vocal; Rupert Cole – alto sax; Willis Jackson – tenor sax; Lester Fauntleroy – piano; Leonard “Heavy” Swain – bass; Gus Johnson – drums.

You Gotta Pay Those Dues Recorded 20 September 1949, New York City

Cootie Williams – trumpet; Bob Merrill(?) – trumpet; Rupert Cole(?) – alto sax; Willis Jackson – tenor sax; Lester Fauntleroy(?) – piano; Leonard “Heavy” Swain(?) – bass; Gus Johnson(?) – drums; Eddie Mack – vocal.

(NOTE: In the podcast, it was erroneously stated that these two recordings dated from 1947.)

CW in hifi

Boomerang (CD: “Cootie Williams in Hi-Fi” RCA 63561-2)

Recorded 10 July 1957, New York City

Cootie Williams – trumpet; George Berg, Rupert Cole, George Clark, Elwyn Fraser – saxophones; Skeeter Best, Larry Dale – guitar; Abe Baker – bass; Dave Martin – piano; Lester Jenkins – drums; Leroy Glover – organ.


Bess, You is my woman now (LP: “Porgy & Bess Revisited” Disques Swing SW-8414)

Recorded late 1958, New York City

Cootie Williams (“Porgy”) – trumpet; Rex Stewart (“Sportin’ Life”) – cornet; Lawrence Brown (“Serena” and “Clara”) – trombone; Hilton Jefferson (“Bess”) – alto sax; Pinky Williams (“Jake”) – baritone sax; Bernie Glow, Joe Wilder, Ernie Royal, Al Derisi – trumpet; Urbie Green, Eddie Bert, Sonny Russo – trombone; Sid Cooper, Walt Levinsky, Al Klink, Boomie Richman – reeds; Buddy Weed – piano; Barry Galbraith – guitar; Milt Hinton – bass; Don Lamond – drums; plus string section.

CW in hifi

Just In Time (CD: “Cootie Williams in Hi-Fi” RCA 63561-2)

Recorded March/April 1958 New York City

Cootie Williams – trumpet; Billy Byers, Bobby Byrne, Lou McGarity – trombone; Dick Hixon – bass trombone; Phil Bodner, Elwyn Fraser, Nick Caiazza, Romeo Penque, Boomie Richman – saxophones; Hank Jones – piano; Tony Mottola – guitar; Eddie Safranski – bass; Don Lamond – drums.

Big Challenge

I Got A Right To Sing The Blues/Alphonse and Gaston (LP: “Cootie and Rex – The Big Challenge” Hall of Fame Jazz Greats JG-602)

Recorded 30 April 1957, New York City

Cootie Williams – trumpet; Rex Stewart – cornet; Lawrence Brown, J.C. Higginbotham – trombone; Coleman Hawkins, Bud Freeman – tenor sax; Hank Jones – piano; Billy Bauer – guitar; Milt Hinton – bass; Gus Johnson – drums.

Horn solo order on Alphonse and Gaston – Lawrence Brown/J.C. Higginbotham (4 times); Coleman Hawkins/Bud Freeman (4 times) Cootie Williams/Rex Stewart (1st and 2nd time – plungers; 3rd time – half valve; 4th time – open)

bessie smith

Gin House Blues (LP: Ronnie Gilbert, “The Legend of Bessie Smith” RCA LPM-1591)

Recorded 8-9 August 1957 New York City

Ronnie Gilbert – vocal; Cootie Williams – trumpet; Benny Morton – trombone; Buster Bailey – clarinet; Claude Hopkins – piano; Steve Jordan or George Barnes or Fred Hellerman – guitar; George Duvivier – bass; Osie Johnson – drums.

Do Nothin

I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)/It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing (CD: “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” Collectables COLCD 6121)

Recorded 1959

Cootie Williams – trumpet; other musicians uncredited.

private collection volume 3

September 12th Blues (CD: “The Private Collection, Volume 3: Studio Sessions, New York 1962 Saja 91043-2)

Recorded 12 September 1962, New York City

Cootie Williams, Bill Berry, Roy Burrowes, Cat Anderson, Ray Nance – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors – trombone; Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Aaron Bell – bass; Sam Woodyard – drums.


It’s Something You Ought To Know
 (Paul Gonsalves – “Ellingtonia Moods and Blues,” RCA Victor / RCA63562)

Recorded 29 February 1960, New York City

Paul Gonsalves- tenor sax; Johnny Hodges – alto sax; Ray Nance – cornet; Mitchell “Booty” Wood – trombone; Jimmy Jones – piano; Al Hall – bass; Oliver Jackson – drums.