Yes, this is a good Joe Williams-Count Basie album, but on one hand, I've heard Williams sounding better with smaller groups (Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry and Coleman Hawkins, etc.) and on the other hand Williams is no match for Jimmy Rushing, as demonstrated on Count Basie at NewportCount Basie at Newport.
And, yes, on the third hand (hm...) there is the question of Ella getting the top billing for doing just one song on the album (and a duet at that!)... Well, on the fourth hand, I've heard Basie's band from this period sounding better without Williams. And, surprise, surprise, probably the most interesting tune of the album is "From Coast to Coast"; not so usual example of succesful blending of Basie's drive with slightly Ellingtonish orchestral subtleties.
(BTW; not that it matters much, but I don't really like Hefti's work for Basie all that much...)
small edit from April 2010
- it took me some time to get over my Rushing thrill and fully appreciate Joe Williams; I still prefer Rushing,
but now I can clearly see (hear) the glory of Joe Williams---
But, I still think "From Coast to Coast" is the most interesting number on this album
and I still think it's a shame to label it an Ella-Count-Joe album when you have only one song with Ella.