Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Jimmy Witherspoon - Six Foot Two Blues

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  • Published on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 16:10
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  • Hits: 318

Six Foot Two Blues - 2.42
Early Mornings - 3.06
Christmas Blues - 3.01
Hey! Mr. Landlord - 2.48
Lou's Guitar Blues - 2.56
Frog I-More - 2.57
Skidrow Blues - 2.56
Wandering Gal Blues - 2.55
Cain River Blues - 2.50
In The Evening - 3.12
Long About Dawn - 2.53
Lush Head Woman - 2.37

Jimmy Witherspoon - Six Foot Two Blues

One of the most versatile blues singers to emerge after World War II, Jimmy Witherspoon had a long career that found him working with jazz and rock musicians as well as in blues, R&B and soul. The Arkansas native had no formal musical training, though he began singing in a Baptist church choir at the age of seven, while he acknowledged the influence of fellow blues shouter Joe Turner. While serving in the Merchant Marine during World War II, he met pianist Teddy Weatherford in Calcutta, who invited him to sing with his band. Deciding to pursue a career as a blues vocalist, Witherspoon went to work with pianist Jay McShann’s band after his discharge and made his recording debut in 1945. After leaving McShann, Witherspoon went out on his own. His career stalled for a time during the early 1950s, but rebounded after a triumphant appearance with an allstar septet at the 1959 Monterey Jazz Festival that included greats like Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge and Earl Hines. The singer continued to record frequently over the next few decades. Witherspoon also left his mark as a composer, with “Skid Row Blues,” “Money’s Getting Cheaper” (also known as “Time’s Gettin’ Tougher Than Tough”) and “Rain is Such a Lonesome Sound” all becoming very popular. Jimmy Witherspoon died in 1997 after a long battle with throat cancer.

The dozen selections feature Witherspoon in 1947 and 1948 with several different lineups. He is accompanied by McShann’s band on several tracks, including a spirited setting of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Frog I-More” and the singer’s “Skid Row Blues”, both of which feature Forrest Powell’s muted trumpet musings and Charlie Thomas’ bluesy tenor sax. Witherspoon has plenty of fun in his lively jump blues “Six Foot Two Blues,” with trumpeter Emmett Berry (on muted horn) and tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate each adding a tasty chorus with a band that includes pianist Bill Doggett and drummer Chico Hamilton in the early days of their careers. Witherspoon also delivers with his somewhat reserved rendition of Leroy Carr’s “In the Evening.” The singer’s humorous side comes out in his “Hey! Mr. Landlord,” lamenting his substandard housing in a breezy blues. Jimmy Witherspoon’s influence on blues from these early recordings remains strong to the present.

 

 
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