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Roger Williams

Biography

This piano virtuoso was one of the architects of instrumental easy listening music. An excellent pianist with a thorough grasp of classical music, sweet big band swing and small-group jazz, Williams' technical mastery was matched by his feel for understated lyricism on one hand and flamboyant melodrama on the other. He played the piano the way that many Americans wished that they themselves could, and he had a string of hit albums and singles that spanned two decades. His most enduring moment remains his first hit, a chart-topping 1955 reading of the achingly beautiful "Autumn Leaves." His recording of the downbeat but lushly romantic French standard was introduced to a whole new audience when it was used as the musical theme of the movie Untamed Heart and as the favorite song of the film's protagonist (played by Christian Slater), who alternated between clutching Roger Williams albums and a fetching Marisa Tomei to his chest. Roger Williams' musical world is that romantic.

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