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CLARENCE WILLIAMS

Pianist, Band Leader, Composer, Music Publisher, Producer, A&R Director, Entrepreneur
(1893-1965)

Williams was born in Plaquemine Delta, Louisiana, in 1898, but his family moved to New Orleans in 1906. He ran away from home in 1910 to join a minstrel show, eventually returning to New Orleans and concentrating on piano studies. Although he took a few formal lessons, much of his tutelage came by listening to pianists like “Jelly Roll” Morton and Tony Jackson in the Storyville District. During this period he met Spencer Williams, with whom he would co-write his first big hits. He worked a variety of non-music jobs in the District, eventually being hired to run one of Storyville’s famous spots, Pete Lala’s Cafe, where a young lad named Louis Armstrong was playing his first important job. He continued to work music jobs and in 1914 met violinist/bandleader Armand Piron with whom he formed the first African-American music publishing firm in New Orleans the following year. Clarence lived in a highly-charged musical neighborhood in which resided future jazz stars Joe “King” Oliver, Edward “Kid” Ory, Johnny and Baby Dodds. He moved to Chicago in 1919 to open a branch of his publishing firm, but two years later he moved the company to New York and bought out Piron’s interest, renaming it the Clarence Williams Music Publishing Company.

Williams was a highly accomplished promoter, and although he had a reputation of putting his name on songs for which his contribution was likely promotional, his firm published many successful songs by African-American composers. Williams was a keen judge of talent, recording and promoting artists such as Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and utilizing the talents of James P. Johnson, King Oliver and Coleman Hawkins on recording sessions.

He was one of the first African-Americans to see the potential of radio, appearing regularly on New York’s WGBS.

Williams’ Blue Five recordings with Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet from 1925 are jazz classics, and he was the first to record the standard “I’ve Found a New Baby.”

In 1943 Williams sold a part interest in his publishing company to Decca Records for $50,000 and basically spent the rest of his life running a second-hand shop. He died in 1965.

-- Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of JazzStandards.com

View by Role: Non-Classical Artist | Non-Classical Composer | Lyricist
Role: Non-Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
SMITH, Bessie: Downhearted Blues (1923-1924) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120660
Blues
SMITH, Bessie: I've Got What It Takes (1929-1933) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120732
Blues
SMITH, Bessie: Preachin' the Blues (1925-1927) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120702
Blues

Role: Non-Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ARMSTRONG, Louis: Jeepers Creepers (1938-1939) (Louis Armstrong, Vol. 5) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120815
Jazz
ARMSTRONG, Louis: Satchel Mouth Swing (1936-1938) (Louis Armstrong, Vol. 4) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120735
Jazz
BASIE, Count: Coming Out Party (1940 - 1942) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120819
Jazz
BECHET, Sidney: Blackstick (1938-1950) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120616
Jazz
BECHET, Sidney: Shake It And Break It (1938-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120699
Jazz
BECHET, Sidney: Spreadin' Joy (1940-1950) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120531
Jazz
BEIDERBECKE, Bix: Bix Lives! (1926-1930) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120712
Jazz
BEIDERBECKE, Bix: Riverboat Shuffle (1924-1929) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120584
Jazz
DORSEY, Tommy: Music Maestro, Please (1935-1939) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120580
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Time's A-Wastin' (1945-1946) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 11) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120811
Jazz
FITZGERALD, Ella: A-Tisket, A-Tasket (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120540
Jazz
GIANTS OF JAZZ Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120756-57
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: Fine and Mellow (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120583
Jazz
INK SPOTS: Swing High, Swing Low (1935-1941) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120534
Nostalgia
JAZZ LEGENDS - Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller Naxos Jazz Legends
8.102002
Jazz
Jazzin Legeanat - 60 kaikkien aikojen klassikkoa Naxos Jazz Legends
8.103014
Jazz
KENTON, Stan: MacGregor Transcriptions, Vol. 5 (1944-1945) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120714
Jazz
KING COLE TRIO: Transcriptions, Vol. 3 (1939) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120629
Jazz
ORY, Kid: Creole Classics (1944-1947) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120587
Jazz
PARKER, Charlie: Bird on the Side (1941-1947) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120622
Jazz
REINHARDT, Django: Americans in Paris (1935-1937) (Reinhardt, Vol. 7) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120734
Jazz
REINHARDT, Django: Djangology (1934-1935) (Reinhardt, Vol. 1) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120515
Jazz
SMITH, Bessie: Downhearted Blues (1923-1924) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120660
Blues
SMITH, Bessie: I've Got What It Takes (1929-1933) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120732
Blues
SMITH, Bessie: Preachin' the Blues (1925-1927) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120702
Blues
SMITH, Bessie: St. Louis Blues (1924-25) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120691
Blues
THEMES OF THE BIG BANDS: Let's Dance! (1934-1947) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120536
Jazz
UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND JAZZ AMBASSADORS: In Concert Altissimo
75442270022
Wind Ensemble/Band Music

Role: Lyricist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ARMSTRONG, Louis: Heebie Jeebies (1925-1930) (Louis Armstrong, Vol. 1) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120541
Jazz
ARMSTRONG, Louis: Jeepers Creepers (1938-1939) (Louis Armstrong, Vol. 5) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120815
Jazz
FITZGERALD, Ella: A-Tisket, A-Tasket (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120540
Jazz
GIANTS OF JAZZ Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120756-57
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: Fine and Mellow (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120583
Jazz
Jazzin Legeanat - 60 kaikkien aikojen klassikkoa Naxos Jazz Legends
8.103014
Jazz
SMITH, Bessie: Preachin' the Blues (1925-1927) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120702
Blues
WALLER, Fats: A Handful of Fats - Classic Hits (1929-1942) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120760
Jazz





 
 
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