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Kamaal Williams

A jazz/blues singer and dancer who enjoyed middling success in the '30s, Williams biggest claim to posterity had mostly to do with being in the right place at the right time: Miles Davis made his initial recordings on a Williams-led session. Davis's contribution was minimal--saxophonist Herbie Fields was the featured instrumentalist and bandleader--but the April 24, 1945 sessions for Savoy are the first known recorded examples of his playing, and important for that reason (if for no other). As for Williams, his career straddled jazz and vaudeville. He worked the TOBA circuit in his teens, and played in minstrel and vaudeville shows during the '20s and '30s. His nickname comes from his "legomania" style of dancing, which combined high leg kicks and various gyrations; the 1933 film Smash Your Baggage featured an example of his hyper-kinetic moves. As a singer his best known song was Bring it On Home. Williams also performed with several big-name jazz band leaders, including Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb. He also recorded in 1945 with pianist Clyde Hart in a band that also included some of the first recordings of bebop pioneers Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. These and the Davis sessions were among his last; his performing career virtually ended soon after making those sides.
© Chris Kelsey /TiVo
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Discography

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