Baby Face Willette

Roosevelt “Baby Face” Willette, September 11, 1933 – April 1 1971 was a hard-bop and soul-jazz musician best known for his Hammond organ playing. It is not clear if he was born in Little Rock (Arkansas) or New Orleans (Louisiana). His mother was a missionary and played the piano at the church where his father was a pastor. Baby Face’s musical roots are in gospel. He started his career playing the piano for various gospel groups and traveled across the United States, Canada, and Cuba. He decided to move from Gospel and Rhythm u0026 Blues to Jazz music in Chicago. Before switching to the organ, he played piano in bands like King Kolax and Joe Houston. He arrived in New York City in 1960 and met Lou Donaldson, Grant Green and participated on a few Blue Note sessions. Blue Note Records signed Willette, who recorded his debut album Face To Face. Willette started his own trio in 1963, and recorded two more albums with Argo. He is the father of Kevin D. Bailey. Willette learned to play the piano by himself and was inspired by Jimmy Smith’s works. However, his playing style is heavily influenced soul and gospel music. Willette is also a licensed hairdresser. He was originally from Milwaukee and played with Jo Gibson, his wife, at clubs like The Flame Club, The Pelican Clubs, The Moonglow, Max’s, and others before moving to New York City. After stints in New York City and California, his failing health required him to return to Chicago where his family lived. He died in 1971. From Wikipedia

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