‘Roll ‘Em Pete – 1959

Count Basie & Joe Williams

Joe Williams cooks a blues

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“’Roll ‘Em Pete” was first sung by Big Joe Turner who often teamed up with pianist Pete Johnson in the 1930s.

For this 1959 version performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, Joe Williams uses some of Turner’s lyrics in addition to adding some of his own while the Count Basie Orchestra really cooks behind him.

Driven by the rhythm section (pianist Basie, guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Eddie Jones, and drummer Sonny Payne) with a brief flute solo by Frank Wess, Joe Williams is at the top of his game throughout this romp.

While he always said that he preferred to sing ballads, few vocalists could sound so relaxed and fully in control on an uptempo blues like Joe Williams.

-Scott Yanow


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