Until recently Jody Williams’s imaginative fretwork was mostly heard on other people’s records–often as performed by other people. He’s played on sides by Howlin’ Wolf (“Evil,” “Forty-Four”) and Bo Diddley (“Who Do You Love”); his lead on Billy Stewart’s 1956 Chess debut “Billy’s Blues” turned up on the Mickey and Sylvia smash “Love Is Strange” that same year. His own “Lucky Lou” was reincarnated as Otis Rush’s “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” in 1958, and the solo from “You May,” the flip side of “Lou,” was reprised (probably by Rush) on Buddy Guy’s “Sit and Cry (the Blues),” also in ’58. Fed up with the music business, Williams retired in the mid-60s. Return of a Legend, his 2002 comeback disc, was his first foray into the studio in over 35 years. He’s just released the follow-up, You Left Me in the Dark (Evidence), and it proves that at 69 Williams is still cultivating new ideas and original variations on old ones. His well-crafted solos, seasoned with quotes from contemporaries like T-Bone Walker and Louis Jordan, have lost none of their power. Almost as impressive this time is his deep-chested baritone, which he uses with a confidence that’s sometimes eluded him in the past. Big James & the Chicago Playboys open. Friday, May 21, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.