Jimmy Witherspoon | Olympia Concert

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Blues: Blues Vocals Blues: Urban Blues Moods: Type: Live Recordings
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Olympia Concert

by Jimmy Witherspoon

A premier singer gives it his all in a European concert of the early '60s.
Genre: Blues: Blues Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. I\'ll Always Be In Love With You
3:59 album only
2. Gee Baby, Ain\'t I Good To You
3:47 album only
3. See See Rider
4:11 album only
4. I Make a Lot of Money
2:40 album only
5. Blowin\' the Blues
3:02 album only
6. \'T Ain\'t Nobody\'s Business
4:45 album only
7. Everything You Do Is Wrong
4:43 album only
8. Roll \'Em Pete
5:43 album only


Album Notes
Despite the fact that he was born in Arkansas August 8, 1923, one might say that, for professional purposes, Jimmy Witherspoon was born one night in 1944 when he replaced Walter Brown with Jay McShann. Throughout the mid-forties, ‘Spoon’ was featured with McShann recording with him for Philo and Mercury. His own recording career began in late 1947 when he cut for Supreme. His second record was Money’s Getting Cheaper (heard here as I Make a Lot of Money) and shortly thereafter, he hit and I mean hit with a two-part ‘T Ain’t Nobody’s Business. For the next decade, he was on top.
Although Witherspoon has always been on the jazz side of blues (as opposed to the R & B side), his identity with California blues (where R & B really got started) throughout the 40s and early 50s, may have obscured this fact.
As blues faded in popularity (giving way to the formula and mechanistic trend of early rock ‘n roll), Spoon’s popularity began to fade. The mid and late 50s are surely a time that he would like to forget. He wasn’t alone by any means, because similar things happened to Wynonie Harris, Walter Brown, Jimmy Rushing, and others. Joe Turner managed to survive via extremely crafty Atlantic productions, but the type of blues sung by Jimmy Witherspoon has never required all the trimmings. A good rhythm section and a single soloist are usually enough for Spoon. In terms of recording, he was on display throughout the decade on Modern, Federal, Checker, Vee Jay, Atlantic (with Wilbur DeParis) and RCA (with Jay McShann). Still, as the 50s faded, he was no longer a headliner.
For the next several years, Spoon and Ben Webster worked together around Los Angeles in an alliance that was good for both men. One break in the relationship is documented here: a French tour with an All-Star cast led by Buck Clayton. It was Spoon’s first exposure to Europe and he was another big hit.
The music here is a typical set of the time. One should note that when Spoon sings a slow blues, it is really slow (perhaps a bit too slow for the ensemble), but when he jumps on the old Joe Turner favorite Roll ‘Em Pete, he makes it his own personal property. Buddy Tate has one of his greatest solos on record here. As to the trumpet soloists, Berry is up on Gee Baby and Buck on the others.
In terms of style, the most important facet of Spoon’s singing is his excellent diction. Many blues singers will mumble or slur (witness the style of Big Joe Turner) but even when Spoon is bringing a phrase all the way up, you can understand him without any trouble. It should come as no surprise to learn that Witherspoon has done a lot of radio work in recent years. The emotional intensity he brings to all his performances might properly classify him as a blues crier rather than a shouter. In the sixties, he began to utilize more contemporary material and, like most active blues artists, to modernize and expand his accompaniment. Yet the basic essentials of what he does have not changed since the 1940s. When it comes to singing the blues, Jimmy Witherspoon is one of the finest practitioners of all time.



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