Jimmy Witherspoon – Sings The Blues Sessions (2003) CD 12 page booklet - uudenveroinen

Label: Ace – CDCHD 896

Format: CD, Compilation

Country: UK

Released: 2003

Genre: Blues, Rhythm & Blues



1 Stormy Monday

2 I'll Never Be Free

3 She Moves Me

4 Card Playing Blues

5 Boogie Woogie Woman

6 Please Hurry Home

7 Don't Have To Cry

8 Jelly Jelly

9 Riding Blues

10 The Blues Came Falling Down

11 Sad Life Blues

12 Cain River Blues

13 Playful Baby

14 When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer

15 Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You

16 Story From My Heart And Soul

17 You Gotta Crawl Before You Walk

18 I Need Somebody

19 Telephone Blues

20 Your Cheating Heart

21 Ain't Nobody's Buiness Part 1

22 Ain't Nobody's Buiness Part 2

23 Endless Sleep

24 How Long How Long Blues

25 When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer

26 The Wind Is Blowin'


Tony Rounce / Ace Record

In case you hadn't noticed, Ace has been getting thoroughly stuck into its owned repertoire of late. Our extensive-bordering-on-exhaustive campaign to digitise every important RPM/Kent recording by B.B. King is well under way, the still-relatively new 10 inch series is coming on nicely and the long-awaited Modern Downhome series has been garnering all the critical plaudits it obviously merits. Next month will see the first volume 'proper' in our "Central Avenue Scene" series, which will initially draw its repertoire from Jake Porter's Combo imprint and eventually spread out to incorporate Modern and Recorded In Hollywood/Cash/Money recordings. And as well as all this, we're also about to give the Ace treatment to the Modern and Kent recordings of another acclaimed blues legend who fully deserves it, the great Jimmy Witherspoon.

We've had a toe in the water where Spoon is concerned for a number of years, via Ray Topping's excellent compilation of material from the man's first tenure with Modern 'Blowing In From Kansas City' (CDCHD 279). But now we're going for the full plunge, with a number of packages that will embrace all Spoon's recordings for the company from the late 40s to the early 60s. Most of this material has never been issued on CD before and, due to some ultra- intensive research of the Modern acetates, we will also be premiering some previously unknown and undocumented sides as we get deeper into the project.

We're kicking off this month with an expanded version of a great little album that Spoon cut for Joe Bihari at the tail end of the 50s, one that was first released - in two slightly different configurations - as Jimmy Witherspoon SINGS THE BLUES, on Modern's budget label Crown. A budget release it may well have originally been, but there was nothing 'budget' about its quality of musicianship, material or vocals, as this first time CD issue proves. Spoon's inimitable vocal style is ideally suited to the intimate, relaxed musical backup that Bihari surrounded him with here. And how nice it is to hear him paying tribute to his equally stellar contemporaries Nat "King" Cole (Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You), Billy Eckstine (Jelly Jelly), Wynonie Harris (Playful Baby), T-Bone Walker (Stormy Monday), Johnny Watson (She Moves Me), B.B. King (several tracks here), as well as a number of blues giants of a previous generation such as Leroy Carr (Blues Came Falling Down, How Long How Long Blues) and the first Sonny Boy Williamson (When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer).

As well as including everything that featured on either of the original issues of "Sings The Blues" - you'll have to see the sleevenotes for a more detailed explanation of the differences between the regular and "X"-suffixed versions! - project supervisor Roger Armstrong has embellished the original content of both with the addition of a further 13 tracks. These were either cut at the same time as, or shortly before or after, the sessions that produced the original vinyl issue. In titling this collection 'Sings The Blues Sessions' Ace may (or may not!) be being slightly economical with the truth, as no session details were filed on these recordings which were almost certainly cut, on the down-low, without the knowledge of the Los Angeles Musicians Union - seemingly a fairly regular occurrence for Joe Bihari at the time. But whether or not they were included on the original "Sings The Blues" albums, there's a cohesive feel to all of these tracks that itself confirms all notions that the sessions were conducted over a very brief period of time. And what is absolutely certain is that, individually and collectively, they capture Spoon in perhaps the best voice of his career, and wholly comfortable in the company of some expert west coasters who'd doubtless backed him on numerous prior occasions.

Whether the repertoire originated with B.B. King, Jody Reynolds or Hank Williams, Spoon treats it all with maximum respect and puts his own unique stamp on everything he sings here. Much as you would expect from a man whose vast body of work, for Modern and elsewhere, is among the most cherished of all blues legends.The title says it all really - Jimmy Witherspoon Sings The Blues. Doesn't he just!

AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger 

The original Sings the Blues LP, recorded by Witherspoon for Crown in 1960, ended up being one of those discographers' nightmares. Two different versions of the LP, Crown CST 215 and Crown 215 X, were released, each of them with songs not on the other, and its year of release has been listed incorrectly by major record guides. Sings the Blues Sessions is something of an expanded CD version of the album(s), on which Ace has taken the opportunity to clear up this unpleasantness by putting all 13 songs that appeared on the two versions of the LP together. Not only that, they've effectively doubled the length of the whole shebang by adding 13 bonus titles that were recorded for Modern around the same time, half a dozen of them previously unissued. As for the material that appeared on the original Sings the Blues LPs, it's a pretty standard easygoing, pleasant Witherspoon small-combo blues session with a tinge of jazz. The program's devoted to covers of tunes by B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Billy Wright, Billy Eckstine, Joe Turner, Leroy Carr, and others; Witherspoon's own "Cain River Blues" is the only original. The bonus tracks are mostly in the same mood, but are dotted with some less standard items, particularly a two-part version of "Ain't Nobody's Business" with strings, an almost rock & roll cover of Jody Reynolds' late-'50s death-rock hit "Endless Sleep," and a cover of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart."



Artist Biography by Bob Porter

One of the great blues singers of the post-World War II period, Jimmy Witherspoon was also versatile enough to fit comfortably into the jazz world. Witherspoon was born on August 8, 1920, in Gurdon, AR. As a child, he sang in a church choir, and made his debut recordings with Jay McShann for Philo and Mercury in 1945 and 1946. His own first recordings, using McShann's band, resulted in a number one R&B hit in 1949 with "Ain't Nobody's Business, Pts. 1 & 2" on Supreme Records. Live performances of "No Rollin' Blues" and "Big Fine Girl" provided 'Spoon with two more hits in 1950.


Jimmy Witherspoon at the Monterey Jazz Festival

The mid-'50s were a lean time, with his style of shouting blues temporarily out of fashion; singles were tried for Federal, Chess, Atco, Vee Jay, and others, with little success. Jimmy Witherspoon at the Monterey Jazz Festival (HiFi Jazz) from 1959 lifted him back into the limelight. Partnerships with Ben Webster or Groove Holmes were recorded, and he toured Europe in 1961 with Buck Clayton, performing overseas many more times in the decades to follow; some memorable music resulted, but Witherspoon's best 1960s album is Evening Blues (Prestige), which features T-Bone Walker on guitar and Clifford Scott on saxophone. As the '70s began, Witherspoon decided to take a short break from live performances, settled in Los Angeles, took a job as a disc jockey, and continued making records. In 1971 Witherspoon teamed up with former Animals vocalist Eric Burdon for the album Guilty. Unfortunately it sold poorly. By 1973 his short retirement from live performances was over. Witherspoon was ready to get back on the road and assembled an amazing band featuring a young Robben Ford on lead guitar. Those live shows had received positive reviews, rejuvenating Witherspoon's move toward a definite rock/soul sound. He traveled to London in 1974 to record Love Is a Five Letter Word with British blues producer Mike Vernon. Vernon had produced critically acclaimed British blues albums by John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, and Ten Years After. By the early '80s, Witherspoon was diagnosed with throat cancer. Although he remained active and was a popular concert attraction, the effect of the disease on his vocals was obvious. Witherspoon passed away on September 18, 1997, at the age of 77.



Jimmy Witherspoon (Vikipedia)

For other persons with the same first and last name, see James Witherspoon.

Jimmy Witherspoon.jpg

Witherspoon in June 1976

Born August 8, 1920, Gurdon, Arkansas, U.S.

Died September 18, 1997 (aged 77), Los Angeles, California

Genres Blues, jump blues[1]

Occupation(s) Singer

Years active1940s–1990s

Early life and career

Witherspoon was born in Gurdon, Arkansas.[2] He first attracted attention singing in Calcutta, India, with Teddy Weatherford's band, which made regular radio broadcasts over the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II. Witherspoon made his first records with Jay McShann's band in 1945. He first recorded under his own name in 1947,[3] and two years later with the McShann band, he had his first hit, "Ain't Nobody's Business,"[2] a song that came to be regarded as his signature tune. In 1950 he had hits with two more songs closely identified with him—"No Rollin' Blues" and "Big Fine Girl"—and also with "Failing by Degrees" and "New Orleans Woman", recorded with the Gene Gilbeaux Orchestra (which included Herman Washington and Don Hill) for Modern Records. These were recorded at a live performance on May 10, 1949, at a "Just Jazz" concert in Pasadena, California, sponsored by Gene Norman. Another classic Witherspoon composition is "Times Gettin' Tougher Than Tough".

Witherspoon performed in four of the famed Cavalcade of Jazz concerts held in Los Angeles at Wrigley Field which were produced by Leon Hefflin Sr. His first performance was at the fourth Cavalcade of Jazz on September 12, 1948 and Dizzy Gillespie was the featured artist along with Frankie Lane, Little Miss Cornshucks, The Sweetheart of Rhythms, The Honeydrippers, Joe Turner, The Blenders and the Sensations[4]. The program description states about Witherspoon that "he is one of the most sought-after blues singers in the business. He has a strong, clear voice and diction that you would hear in the classics. Although he has been quite successful singing the blues, Witherspoon can sing ballads with a surprising sweetness." He played at the fifth Cavalcade of Jazz concert on July 10, 1949, along with Lionel Hampton, The Hamptones, Buddy Banks and his Orchestra, Big Jay McNeely and Smiley Turner.[5] Witherspoon came back again for the seventh Cavalcade of Jazz concert on July 8, 1951 and performed along side Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton and his Revue, Percy Mayfield, Joe Liggins' Honeydrippers, and Roy Brown.[6] His last appearance at the eighth Cavalcade of Jazz concert was on June 1, 1952. Also featured that day was Anna Mae Winburn and Her Sweethearts, Jerry Wallace, Toni Harper, Roy Brown and His Mighty Men, Louis Jordan and his Orchestra and Josephine Baker.[7]

Witherspoon's style of blues—that of the "blues shouter"—became unfashionable in the mid-1950s, but he returned to popularity with his 1959 album Jimmy Witherspoon at the Monterey Jazz Festival, which features Roy Eldridge, Woody Herman, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Earl Hines and Mel Lewis, among others.[8] Witherspoon later recorded with Gerry Mulligan, Leroy Vinnegar, Richard "Groove" Holmes and T-Bone Walker.[2]


Tours and successes

In 1961 he toured Europe with Buck Clayton and returned to the UK on many occasions, featuring on a mid-'60s live UK recording, Spoon Sings and Swings (1966), with tenor sax player Dick Morrissey's quartet. In 1970, Witherspoon appeared on Brother Jack McDuff's London Blue Note recording To Seek a New Home together with British jazz musicians, including Dick Morrissey, again, and Terry Smith. In the 1970s Witherspoon also recorded the album Guilty! (later released on CD as Black & White Blues) with Eric Burdon[2] and featuring Ike White & the San Quentin Prison Band. He then toured with a band of his own featuring Robben Ford and Russ Ferrante. A recording from this period, Spoonful, featured Witherspoon accompanied by Robben Ford, Joe Sample, Cornell Dupree, Thad Jones and Bernard Purdie.[9] He continued performing and recording into the 1990s.[9]

Other performers with whom Witherspoon recorded include Jimmy Rowles, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Vernon Alley, Mel Lewis, Teddy Edwards, Gerald Wiggins, John Clayton, Paul Humphrey, Pepper Adams, Kenny Burrell, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Jimmy Smith, Long John Baldry, Junior Mance, Ellington bassist Jimmy Woode, Kenny Clarke, Gerry Mulligan, Jim Mullen, Count Basie, Van Morrison, Dutch Swing College Band, and Gene Gilbeaux, among others.



In the 1995 film Georgia, Witherspoon portrayed a traveling, gun-collecting blues singer, Trucker, who has a relationship with the troubled character Sadie, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.

He played Nate Williams in The Black Godfather (1974) and Percy in To Sleep with Anger (1990).


Witherspoon died of throat cancer on September 18, 1997, in Los Angeles.[10]


Witherspoon's grandson Ahkello Witherspoon is the starting cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers.And his granddaughter Alexis Witherspoon, better known to the world as Lecsi Tomorrow is an American upcoming artist who is signed with WARROOM MUSIC GROUP, Inc.[11]



Chart singles

YearSingleChart Positions

US Pop[12]US R&B[13]

1949"Ain't Nobody's Business (Parts 1 & 2)"—1

"In the Evening"—5

"No Rollin' Blues"—4

"Big Fine Girl"—4

1952"The Wind Is Blowin'"—7

1965"You're Next"98—

1975"Love Is a Five Letter Word"—31


  • 1957: Wilbur De Paris Plays & Jimmy Witherspoon Sings New Orleans Blues (Atlantic)
  • 1957: Goin' to Kansas City Blues (RCA Victor) with Jay McShann
  • 1959: Battle of the Blues, Vol. 3 (De Luxe)
  • 1959: Feelin' the Spirit (HiFi)
  • 1959: Jimmy Witherspoon (Crown)
  • 1959: Jimmy Witherspoon & Jay McShann (Black Lion)
  • 1959: Singin' the Blues (Blue Note)
  • 1960: Jimmy Witherspoon at the Monterey Jazz Festival [live]
  • 1960: Jimmy Witherspoon Sings the Blues (Crown)
  • 1961: Spoon (Collectables)
  • 1961: There's Good Rockin' Tonight (World Pacific)
  • 1962: A Spoonful of Blues (Ember)
  • 1962: Hey, Mrs. Jones (Reprise)
  • 1962: Roots (Reprise)
  • 1963: Stormy Monday and Other Blues By Jimmy Witherspoon (Sutton)
  • 1963: Baby, Baby, Baby (Prestige), also released as Mean Old Frisco
  • 1963: Evenin' Blues (Prestige)
  • 1963: Blues Around the Clock (Prestige)
  • 1964: Blue Spoon (Prestige)
  • 1964: Some of My Best Friends Are the Blues (Prestige)
  • 1965: Spoon in London (Prestige)
  • 1966: Spoon Sings and Swings (Fontana)
  • 1966: Blues for Easy Livers (Prestige)
  • 1966: Blues for Spoon and Groove (Surrey)
  • 1966: Blue Point of View
  • 1966: Blues Box
  • 1966: In Person (Verve)
  • 1967: The Blues Is Now (Verve)
  • 1968: Spoonful of Soul (Verve)
  • 1969: Blues Singer (BluesWay)
  • 1970: Handbags & Gladrags (ABC)
  • 1970: Huhh (BluesWay)
  • 1970: Ain't Nobody's Business, with Dutch Swing College Band (DSC)
  • 1971: Guilty (United Artists)
  • 1972: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival
  • 1973: Groovin' & Spoonin' (Original Music)
  • 1974: Jimmy Witherspoon & Ben Webster (Verve)
  • 1975: Love Is a Five Letter Word (Rhino)
  • 1975: Spoonful Avenue (Rhino)
  • 1976: Live: Jimmy Witherspoon & Robben Ford (Rhino)
  • 1976: Live Crosscut (Germany)
  • 1980: Jimmy Witherspoon with Panama Francis & the Savoy Sultans Sings the Blues (Muse)
  • 1980: Spoon's Life (Evidence)
  • 1980: Spoon in Australia (Jazzis)
  • 1981: Big Blues (JSP)
  • 1985: Patcha, Patcha, All Night Long (Pablo)
  • 1986: Midnight Lady Called the Blues (Muse)
  • 1988: Rockin' L.A. (Fantasy)
  • 1989: Spoon Concerts (Fantasy)
  • 1990: Live at Condon's (Who's Who in Jazz)
  • 1991: Call Me Baby (Night Train)
  • 1992: Live at the Notodden Festival (Blue Rock'It)
  • 1992: The Blues, the Whole Blues & Nothing but the ... (Indigo)
  • 1993: Hot Licks: Ain't Nobody's Business (Sound Solutions)
  • 1993: Blowin' In from Kansas City (Ace)
  • 1994: Amazing Grace (Delta Distribution)
  • 1995: Spoon's Blues (Stony Plain)
  • 1995: Ain't Nothin' New About the Blues, recorded live (Aim)
  • 1995: Taste of Swing Time (Tuff City)
  • 1995: American Blues (Rhino)
  • 1996: Live at the Mint (Private)
  • 1996: 'Spoon & Groove (Rykodisc)
  • 1997: Tougher Than Tough (Blue Moon)
  • 1997: Jimmy Witherspoon with the Junior Mance Trio (Stony Plain)
  • 1998: Jazz Me Blues: The Best of Jimmy Witherspoon (Prestige)
  • 2000: Big Boss Man [live] (Starburst)
  • 2000: Jimmy Witherspoon with the Duke Robillard Band, recorded live (Stony Plain)
  • 2000: Same Old Blues (Catfish)
  • 2001: Goin' to Chicago (Tim)
  • 2001: Sings Blues (Aim)
  • 2002: Spoon Meets Pau (Eureka )
  • 2002: Goin' Around the Circles (Past Perfect )
  • 2003: Sings the Blues Sessions (Ace)
  • 2004: Very Best of Jimmy Witherspoon: Miss Miss Mistreater (Collectables)
  • 2004: 1948–1949 (Classics)
  • 2006: 1950–1951 (Classics)
  • 2006: Ain't Nobody's Business (SnapperLive)
  • 2008: Live at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Festival)
  • 2009: Doctor Blues Blues Boulevard
  • 2009: Olympia Concert (CD Baby)
  • 2010: Live 59


  • 2003: 20th Century Jazz Masters: Mel Tormé/Jimmy Witherspoon/Carmen McRae/Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan
  • 2003: Jazz Casual, Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Witherspoon
  • 2009: Goin' Down Blues



Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jimmy Witherspoon.

^ Jump up to: a b Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. ^ Jump up to: a b c d "About the Spoon". Official Spoon. Archived from the original on 2007-09-16. Retrieved 2007-12-08. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 13. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. ^ O'Connell, Sean J. Los Angeles's Central Avenue jazz. Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 146713130X. OCLC 866922945. ^ “Star Studded Show At Wrigley Field Sunday, July 10th” Article The California Eagle June 30, 1949. ^ “Jazz Greats Will Entertain Throngs” Article and Photo caption The California Eagle July 5, 1951. ^ “That Man Who Sings The Blues” Los Angeles Sentinel May 15, 1952. ^ Russell (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. p. 192. ^ Jump up to: a b "Spoon's Discography". Official Spoon. Archived from the original on 2007-09-16. Retrieved 2007-12-08. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1996–1997". TheDeadRockStarsClub.com. Retrieved 2015-08-30. ^ "49ers Roster - San Francisco 49ers – 49ers.com". www.49ers.com. Retrieved 14 April 2018. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 774. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–1995. Record Research. p. 490. ^ "Jimmy Witherspoon, Jazz Casual: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic.com. 2003-12-02. Retrieved 2015-08-30.


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