Charles Melvin "Cootie" Williams (Mobile (Alabama), 1910 - July 24, New York, 15 september 1985) was an American jazz trumpeter. He was best known as a member of Duke Ellington's Orchestra, where he defined the sound of the band.
Williams played at a young age in and around Mobile with Johnny Pope and Holman's Jazz Band. When he was fifteen, he moved to Florida, where he joined a group ofCalvin Shields. In 1928 he went with Alonzo Ross DeLuxe Syncopators "to New York, where he briefly played in the bands of Arthur Ford, Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson. In 1929 he became a member of Duke Ellington's band, where he replaced trumpeter Bubber Miley . He would play here until 1940. Williams certain with his snarling jungle-style of play and use of the damper (plunger-mute), to a large extent, the sound of Ellington. In this period were numerous Ellington classics, including "Concerto For Cootie". Williams also made with group members by Ellington plates under the names Cootie Williams and His Rug Cutters and Cootie Williams Orchestra. In those years he also took on with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday.
In 1940 Williams was member of Benny Goodman's Orchestra, with whom he had encountered in his legendary 1938 Carnegie Hallconcert. His departure from Ellington for jazz lovers at that time was a big shock. At Goodman he laid aside and surprised the audience with its open damper, to Louis Armstrong related trumpet sound. A year later he wanted to return, but the Ellington Orchestra leader advised him to start his own band. Until 1962 Williams led a range of groups, including a big band. He took some with old-Ellington-served Rex Stewart. He also played with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. From 1948 he playedrhythm & blues, to later return to the jazz. In 1962 Williams was again a member of the Ellington Orchestra, where he worked until 1975, a year after his death, would play.During this time was his game more simple, but he was still the master of the damper.
- Cootie & Rex: The Big Challenge (with Rex Stewart, 1957-Jazztone recordings), Fresh Sound
- Cootie Williams in Hi-Fi (with a big band), RCA, 1958
- Jazz at Stereoville (with Rex Stewart, Uraniarecordings 1958), Blue Moon
- Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, Warwick, 1959
- Cootie/Un Concert a Minuit avec Cootie Williams (Decca Recordings 1959), Master Jazz
- The Solid Trumpet or Cootie Williams, Moodsville, 1962
- Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1941-1944, Classics
- Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1945-1946, Classics
- Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1946-1949, Classics
with Benny Goodman:
- Live at Carnegie Hall: 1938 (complete concert), Legacy
- Benny Goodman Sextet Featuring Charlie Christian (recordings 1939 and 1941}, Columbia