The singer’s way carries you on a joyride through every turn and straightaway of a song’s story. He injected wit and flair, and some fun and tease, into his phrasing. He made what he did sound simple and at the same time sophisticated. He made you feel especially special just for listening. A song took on a kind of shine and polish.
His sound had a sensibility of grown-up play and adventure. It was a solid, soulful and bluesy-oriented sound that belied many hurdles and trials of times that did not reward African-American singers with the same placement, status and stardom as their white contemporaries.
The unique relationship with Count Basie’s Orchestra through the 1950s is a sweet, beautiful story. They were a perfect match of no surprise. It was a sophistication of sound. The combined artistry was a seamless weave.
Williams was one of the original gentlemen of the big bands and jazz, very much as suave, graceful, and elegant as the way he sang and presented a song.