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July 31, 04|
|James Williams was one of the nicest persons you could meet. Open, friendly, always helpful you could rely on him for his consistency in music and as a friend.
In the jazz fraternity too few deliver their promises - not James. When his good friend, John King, here in the UK became seriously ill, James immediately made arrangements to be at the hospital. After John died, James came back for his funeral.
James was one of the most self effacing individuals in respect of his own talents. You would want to talk to him about his playing and compositions but he would refer you to his colleagues on the sessions and how good they played.
Typically, he faced his illness with fortitude, dignity and calm.
Just a few days before he died, he wanted to know how Hank Jones had played at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague, Netherlands (a venue James played at many times over a 20 year period). He loved Hank as he loved many others in the jazz brotherhood.
We will sorely miss his playing and, of course, his wonderful sense of humour.
Naturally he will live on with us through his legacy of recordings in both his own name and with many other great artists like himself. His compositions like "Alter Ego", "Arioso", "Be Real Special", "For Old Times Sake" will continue as standards.
His last concert in England on May 28th, a solo recital, was played despite the early ravages of his illness. His final number was the spiritual medley dedicated to his father, Tommy. The the final part of the medley is called *Why We Sing". This was and is the message of James to us all.
God bless you James; we will never forget you.