So little is known about tenor saxophonist Eddy Williams that his Wikipedia entry seemingly incorrectly lists his birth date as "(ca. 1910)." As WBGO-NY radio host Bob Porter notes, the photo above doesn't appear to be that of a 50-year-old. It also doesn't help that Williams appeared on so few known jazz recording sessions. But the jazz albums on which Williams did appear are uniformly superb, particularly the two he made with trombonist Bennie Green. [Photo above of Eddy Williams by Francis Wolff]
Williams was paired with Green on Green's Minor Revalation (November 1958) and Walkin' & Talkin' (January 1959)—both for Blue Note. The rhythm section on the former album consisted of Sonny Clark (p), Paul Chambers (b) and Jerry Segal (d). On the latter, Williams and Green were joined by Gildo Mahones (p), George Tucker (b) and Al Dreares (d). Even growly bop vocalist Babs Gonzales appears on a track—Encore, a tribute to Green—on Minor Revalation.
What was exceptional about the playing style of Chicago-born Williams was his large, fluid, confident and energetic sound. A member of Jelly Roll Morton's Seven in 1940, Williams' tone on Green's dates and his improvisational approach fits somewhere among Dexter Gordon, Jimmy Forrest and Gene Ammons. On solos, Williams sailed-in and tightly rendered double-time lines with R&B-flavoring, pausing briefly before diving back in.
Puzzlingly, there are huge gaps of time in Williams' discography in the '50s—perhaps a result of a prolific R&B sideman career or some other reason. We'll have to wait until those with more knowledge of Williams check in. [Photo above of Bennie Green by Francis Wolff]
For now, Eddy Williams is yet another phantom '50s swinging sideman who emerged sporadically but made a significant blues statement.
JazzWax tracks: The Bennie Green Mosaic Select set is out of print, but you'll find both Minor Revalation and Walkin' and Talkin' here on a single set. The closest Williams came to a leadership session was Makin' Out (June 1961), on which he was the sole horn backed by leader John Wright (p), Wendell Marshall (b) and Roy Brooks (d). You'll find Makin' Out on John Wright: Essential Jazz Masters at iTunes or Amazon here.
JazzWax clip: Here's Bennie Green and Eddy Williams on Can't We Be Friends, from Green's Minor Revalation. Dig Williams' big bossy sound. Roll your cursor to the left of "Eddy" in the gray bar below and click on the play arrow...