Jimmy Witherspoon (Born 08/08/1920, Died 18/09/1997)
|Jimmy Witherspoon is truly a singer who can sing it all - rock, jazz and R&B as well as blues. Over the years he blossomed in the company of jazz musicians but the bottom line is that his deep, powerful and mellow voice places him firmly in the blues tradition.
In the early days he performed with many of the jazz musicians of the time and in 1944 he toured with the Jay McShann band as well as collaborating with players of the quality of Ben Webster. One of his most famous 'anthems', 'Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do' was first recorded as early as 1949, although it was a song he would return to on a number of occasions throughout his career.
As his R&B star faded, he made a big impression by revisiting the jazz circuit - always a great live performer, he appeared with Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Earl Hines at the Monterey Jazz festival in 1959. The resulting recording became one of Witherspoon's most enduring career highlights and can be heard on the Charly Blues Masterworks CD "Rockin' With Spoon". Ironically for a performer who had been recording for at least seventeen years, he even won the Downbeat magazine critics poll as a 'new star' in 1961
In the 60s he spent much of his time touring throughout Europe, again mainly in a jazz setting, but by the 70s he had packed in live work and was employed as a DJ in Los Angeles.
Definitive compilations of work are quite difficult to find, especially in the UK - the Indigo release "The Essential Jimmy Witherspoon Volume 1" is definitely the pick of what's around, along with the Prestige compilation "Jazz Me Blues: The Best Of", which is also worth getting hold of. Try "Same Old Blues" on Catfish Records as another fair representation of a great singer - a sadly missed talent!