Blues, Jazz Piano

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Jabo Williams was an African American boogie-woogie and blues pianist and songwriter.[1] His total recorded output was a mere eight sides, which included his two best-known "stunningly primitive"[2] offerings, "Pratt City Blues" and Jab's Blues" (1932).[1][3] Details of his life outside of music are scanty.


It is generally supposed that Williams was born in Pratt City, Birmingham, Alabama, United States. However, this is based purely on references to that location, in his self-penned recording of "Pratt City Blues".[1] What is certain is that he relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, and was recommended to Paramount Records, by a local record store owner and scout Jesse Johnson.[3] In May 1932, Williams recorded eight tracks in a recording studio in Grafton, Wisconsin, for the Paramount label. The timing was not fortuitous, as Paramount stopped recording that year, and went out of business in 1935. Consequently, Williams's output was limited in both national distribution and the number of issued records.[1] His "Kokomo Blues," followed previous recordings of a similar style with the same refrain, but included the counting line;One and two is three, four and five and six[4]

This partly paved the way towards the better known song, "Sweet Home Chicago".

By the late 1940s and early 1950s, some of Williams tracks were re-issued on the American Music record label, amongst others. His playing style was somewhat unique, but such belated recognition failed to unearth Williams, whose life details remain a mystery.[1]

He was recalled briefly by Henry Townsend, who stated "I knew him from down on Biddle Street and I played guitar behind him around town". He added that Williams was "an average guy and he was very entertaining... he disappeared from St. Louis and went down in Arkansas some place. I never knew what the hell happened to him."[5] Discography

His total output consisted of the tracks, "Fat Mama Blues", "House Lady Blues", "Jab's Blues", "Kokomo Blues" Parts 1 and 2, "My Woman Blues", "Polock Blues", and "Pratt City Blues". All were included on the compilation album, Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano, Vol. 1 (1928-1932), issued in 1992 by Document Records.[6]


a b c d e "Biography by Uncle Dave Lewis". Retrieved October 4, 2011.
Laird, Ross (1995). Tantalizing tingles: a discography of early ragtime, jazz, and novelty (1st ed.). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. (X) Introduction. ISBN 0-313-29240-X.
a b "Jabo Williams". Retrieved October 4, 2011.
"Ko Ko Mo Blues", Jabo Williams, Paramount PM 13127
Townsend, Henry (1999). A Blues Life (1st ed.). Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-252-02526-1.
"Allmusic ((( Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano, Vol. 1 (1928-1932) > Review )))".


More info:

Video: Jabo Williams Polack Blues

Video: Jabo Williams - Pratt City Blues

Allmusic credits:


Amazon: Jabo Williams

iTunes: Jabo Williams

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