Classics picks up the story of former Ellington
trumpeter Cootie Williams
as the leader of his own orchestra from 1946 through 1949 on sides he recorded for Capitol, Majestic, and Mercury. Vocalists Bob Merrill, Billy Matthews, and Eddie Mack are heavily featured on these 22 cuts. The R&B jump music of Louis Jordan
and Wynonie Harris
were big draws in the nightclubs and jukeboxes of the time and much of this material lends itself to that style. "Inflation Blues" is a takeoff of the "Let the Good Times Roll" theme, while "Save the Bones for Henry Jones," "I Should O' Been Thinking Instead of Drinkin," "Gator Tail" (parts one and two), and "Doin' the Gator Tail" are enjoyable mixtures of novelty lyrics and stompin' R&B instrumentals. While Williams
favored this commercial recipe during these years, he did manage to wax a few ballads, such as "I Can't Get Started" and "I Want to Be Loved," and orchestra numbers like "Rhapsody in Bass"; "Sound Track" leans toward the Ellington
esque style he was an earlier participant in.