Artist Details

Cootie Williams

Cootie Williams, one of the finest trumpeters of the 1930s, expanded upon the role originally formed by Bubber Miley with Duke Ellington's Orchestra. Renowned for his work with the plunger mute, Cootie was also a fine soloist when playing open. Starting as a teenager, Cootie Williams played with a variety of local bands in the South, coming to New York with Alonzo Ross' Syncopators. He played for a short time with the orchestras of Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson (recording with the latter), before joining Duke Ellington as Miley's replacement in February 1929. He was a fixture with Duke's band during the next 11 years, not only recording many classics with Ellington (including "Echoes of Harlem" and "Concerto for Cootie"), but leading some of his own sessions and recording with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, and Billie Holiday, in addition to being a guest at Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall Concert in 1938. His decision to leave Ellington and join Goodman's orchestra in 1940 was considered a major event in the jazz world. During his year with B.G., Williams was well-featured with both the big band and Goodman's sextet. The following year he became a bandleader, heading his own orchestra which, at times in the 1940s, featured such up-and-coming players as pianist Bud Powell, tenorman Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, altoist/singer Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and even Charlie Parker.