Cootie Williams
(b. July 24, 1910 - d. September 14,1985)

Charles Melvin Williams was an American, self-taught jazz and rhythm-and- blues trumpeter.

He rose to prominence as a member of Duke Ellington's orchestra, with which he first performed from 1929 to 1940. He also recorded his own sessions during this time, both freelance and with other Ellington sidemen. In 1940, the year that Ellington wrote Concerto for Cootie, Williams left the Ellington orchestra and joined Benny Goodman's orchestra, where he stayed for a year. Then in 1941, Williams formed his own orchestra, in which over the years he employed Charlie Parker, Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Bud Powell, Ed Thigpen, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, and other important young players.

Williams began to play more rhythm and blues in the late 1940s. In the 1950s, he toured with small groups and fell into obscurity. In 1962, he rejoined Ellington and stayed with the orchestra till 1974, after Ellington's death. His strong features and masterful trumpet-playing remained a focal point in the Ellington orchestra.

Cootie Williams was renowned for his use of the plunger mute in his trumpet, and is reputed to have inspired Wynton Marsalis's use of it. (Source:



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