Rudy Williams: Age 45 | Cause Of Death: DROWNING

(Born: 21 September 1909, Newark, New Jersey, United States; Died: September 1954, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States)

Jazz / Savoy Sultans

Rudy Williams (1909–1954) was an American jazz saxophonist, son of the well-known bandleader Fess Williams and cousin of the jazz great Charles Mingus.

Williams started on saxophone at age twelve, and concentrated on alto, though he was also capable on baritone and tenor sax. He became a member of the Savoy Sultans in 1937, and recorded frequently with the group. In the 1940s he played with Hot Lips Page, Luis Russell, Chris Columbus, and John Kirby, and led his own bands in Boston and New York City later in the decade. He played with Tadd Dameron in 1948, and after more time as a bandleader in Boston in the early 1950s, played with Illinois Jacquet and Gene Ammons in California. As a member of Oscar Pettiford’s band, he toured East Asia in the 1950s.

Williams also recorded with Howard McGhee, Dud Bascomb, Don Byas, Babs Gonzales, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Vinson, Bennie Green, and Johnny Hodges. He never recorded as a bandleader. Upon his death, Charles Mingus wrote a memorial piece, Eulogy for Rudy Williams, then recorded it for Savoy. The liner notes of the Savoy LP state that Williams died by drowning in summer 1954. ~AMG

Rudy Williams played with many of the greats. Here’s a partial list: Hot Lips Page, Luis Russell, Tadd Dameron, Illinois Jacquet, Howard McGhee, Don Byas, Babs Gonzales, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Vinson, Bennie Green, and Johnny Hodges. Almost as interesting — his lineage. His father was swing-era bandleader Fess Williams, and his cousin was Charles Mingus, who wrote and recorded “Eulogy For Rudy Williams” when the sax player died in a drowning accident in 1954. [in Massachusetts according to Dizzy Gillespie’s autobiography]~