Monday, December 12, 2005

Claude "Fiddler" Williams- These Foolish Things

The fiddlin' is gone.

I've experienced few things as life-affirming as witnessing Claude Fiddler Williams light up a stage in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The Kansas City resident was 96 when he died in 2004. The elderly Williams was a slight, frail man, but his countenance transformed when his bow touched a violin. It was impossible not to smile as he played. He first recorded in 1928 and joined the Basie Orchestra in the late ‘30s before slipping into relative obscurity. This live song is pulled from a hopelessly rare CD released on a German budget label. The Europeans accompanying him are fine but are incapable of inspiring Williams to his best work. Of his dates as a leader, I suggest starting with the two Arhoolies or the Bullseye session. William’s work with pianist Jay McShann is also a joy. (Song is 6:53)

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