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The reissue mavens and mavenettes at Collectors' Choice Music have scored another coup with the commencement of Roger Williams' (piano) capacious Kapp Records catalog, which boasts better than three-dozen respective discs. Cutting right to the chase, the first release on the docket is a two-fer CD containing a pair of the artist's most critically and commercially lauded titles, Till (1957), and the follow-up long-player, Near You (1958). Williams was a child prodigy whose talents were temporarily overshadowed while he pursued a career as a boxer. Several broken noses later he returned to music. By the time these two platters were issued, he had already chalked up a significant audience who continually placed his LPs and 45s in both the airplay and sales charts. His emotive style and limber precision became a trademark when interpreting easy listening covers of pop standards, as well as updated arrangements of classical works. This seemingly disparate combination of styles comprise the contents of Till/Near You (2004). "Brahms' A Flat Waltz," "Moonlight Love," which is based on Debussy's Clair de Lune, and "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1" [aka "Tonight We Love"] are not rendered in a pretentious manner. Each piece is given a unique revitalization drawing heavily on Williams' dexterous and emphatic phrasings. His ability to create bold yet intimate moods is exemplified on the noir and moody "Jalousie." The track is executed with an inundation of agile keyboarding, reinforcing his equally dynamic chord progressions. While his verve remains strong throughout, the intimate solitude of "Fascination," or the haunting "Tammy," are apt demonstrations of Williams' versatility. He similarly retains the comfortable charisma of "Catch a Falling Star" with a Latin-tinged feel missing from Perry Como's hit version. For modern listeners, this entry allows a long overdue exposure to Roger Williams at his undeniable peak. ~ Lindsay Planer, Rovi
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There is something so lovely about the way Mr. Williams plays the piano. Anyone and everyone who is a fan, should have this CD.
The CD quality is great and just listening to the songs brings back wonderful memories. Roger Williams is a timeless artist.
This single CD “Till/Near You”, released by the now defunct Collectors’ Choice from US in 2004, contains two complete albums with 24 songs. I have compiled a detailed song listing (Including album and singles label & number, chart position, debut or recording date, plus personal comments)(BB200=Billboard Album Chart; BB Pop=Billboard Hot 100; CB Pop=Cash Box Singles Chart; RW Pop=Record World Singles Chart):
LP “TILL” (Kapp KL-1081)(BB200 4/1958):
01 Till (Kapp K-197X)(a-side)(BB Pop 22/1957; CB Pop 24/1957; RW Pop 42/1957)(October 1957)
02 April Love
03 Arrivederci, Roma (Kapp K-210X)(a-side)(BB Pop 55/1958; CB Pop 32/1958; RW Pop 14/1958)(April 1958)
04 Que Sera, Sera
06 The High and the Mighty
09 The Sentimental Touch (Kapp K-210X)(b-side, April 1958)
10 Oh, My Papa
11 Brahms’ A Flat Waltz
12 Moonlight Love (Kapp K-186X)(a-side)(CB Pop 54/1957; RW Pop 83/1957)(June 1957)*rare gem; CD debut.
LP “NEAR YOU” (Kapp KL-1112)(BB200 9/1959):
13 Near You (Kapp K-233X)(a-side)(BB Pop 10/1958; CB Pop 12/1958; RW Pop 9/1958)(August 1958)
14 It’s All In The Game
15 Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 (Kapp K-246X)(b-side, December 1958)
16 Deep Purple
17 Young and Warm And Wonderful (Kapp K- 224X)(a-side)(CB Pop 31/1958; RW Pop 31/1958)(May 1958)
18 St. Louis Blues
19 The World Outside (Kapp K-246X)(a-side)(BB Pop 71/1958; CB Pop 25/1958)(December 1958)
20 Catch A Falling Star
21 September Song
23 Indiscreet (Kapp K- 224X)(b-side, May 1958)
1 The above two albums are making their CD debut in 2004, the first Roger Williams albums appearing on CD. Precious! Although “Near You” has been released by Jasmine Records in 2015, “Till” is still not available elsewhere on CD.
2 The sound is very well remastered, as per usual high standards at Collectors’ Choice. The sound here is superior than that of Jasmine Records. All the songs in this CD have become my reference standards. By the way, Collectors’ Choice is now being replaced by Real Gone Music (US).
3 The 8-page booklet is simply wonderful, and this is the way booklet should be done. Besides the informative essay by Joseph Laredo, the front AND back album covers are in full display, each occupying the entire page. I hope Jasmine Records, Sepia Records and Real Gone Music are listening.
4 All the songs are original versions, no re-recorded versions.
1 Disc time: 72 minutes. Not bad by 2004 standards. I was hoping that rare b-sides, like “Every Little Movement” (b-side to “Moonlight Love”) and “Big Town” (b-side to “Till”) are included. These two songs are still not available on CD in 2015.
Roger Williams was born Louis Jacob Weetz on October 1, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska. He learned to play piano by age three. His “Autumn Leaves” remained the only piano instrumental to reach No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100. Beside a lengthy singles career, he has released numerous memorable albums. He sadly died of pancreatic cancer on October 8, 2011 (age 87).
I love the piano style of Roger Williams. Unfortunately, as noted above, his catalogue is much neglected in CD releases. So far, in addition to the albums listed above, other albums available on CDs are (1) America’s Best Selling Pianist (Jasmine, 2012), containing “With These Hands”, “Always”, “Songs of the Fabulous Fifties”, and “Temptation”, (2) “More From America’s Best Selling Pianist” (Jasmine, 2015), containing “Near You,”, “More Songs of the Fabulous Fifties”, “Songs of the Soaring ‘60s”, “Greatest Hits” and “Maria” and (3) “Temptation/Yellow Bird” (Sepia, 2012, with great sound). Be careful, quite a few Roger Williams CDs currently available are re-recorded music, nice but not original versions. I hope more original materials will be released in the future. In the meantime, this current set is totally enjoyable, with top-rated sound, and is highly recommended.
In spite of the 'mono' issue, I still recommend the purchase of this CD. Lots of great memories, and Mr. Williams sounds as fresh and lively as he did when I heard him in live performance about the time "Near You" was recorded.
one CD in addition to the great quality now provided for our
listening pleasure. Not only is it great to hear Roger's great
arrangements of favorites such as "Till", "Near You", "April Love", "It's All in the Game" and "September Song", but also the
special feeling with which he plays such songs as "Young and
Warm and Wonderful", "Fascination" and "Moonlight Love". Here is
an artist with a special talent - playing the actual words to the music and feeling the meaning to each song. This is no doubt
the main reason - second only to his masterful artistry at the
keyboard - that has kept him at the top of the list as the
country's #1 Pop Pianist for over 50 years. And he's still go-
ing strong, doing what he loves best, at age 80! Way to go,
"Till" and "Near You" were both Billboard hit singles which were a follow-up to Williams' mammoth hit of "Autumn Leaves." The wonderful bonuses are all the great Williams arrangements and performances, never before on CD, on such classics as "Catch A Falling Star," "Volare," "Deep Purple," and "St. Louis Blues."
Nobody caresses and finesses a song like Roger Williams. What's amazing is that Williams actually plays the words on these instrumentals.
These two albums are testament to Williams 60 year career, which is going stronger than ever as he tours the world on the eve of his 80th birthday this October.