Jimmy Witherspoon, featuring Robben Ford, guitar – Live at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival – MJF Records

by | Aug 19, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Jimmy Witherspoon, featuring Robben Ford, guitar – Live at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival – MJF Records 30638 [Distr. by Concord Music] ****:

Another in the fine series of CDs being released by the Monterey Jazz Festival itself.  Only the final one of these 11 tracks had been issued previously, so this is quite a coup. Recorded at the 15th annual festival, Witherspoon was in great form, and his recordings made in live situations always seemed much better than his studio sessions. This one is no different.

The young band playing with Witherspoon was having the time of its life.  Robben Ford is heard on both guitar and alto sax and some of his solos really burn.  The band members mention in the notes how they were moving more in a jazz direction than blues and were trying to create a more contemporary jazz style in their backing of ‘Spoon.  Perhaps that’s why I dug this one even more. ‘Spoon tells the audience at one point after a Ford solo, ” not just black folks who have a natural sense of rhythm, ain’t it a bitch?”  He was a great entertainer and Ford was thrilled when his band became ‘Spoon’s permanent band, even touring Europe with him.

Don’t give up on this disc when hearing the first track – it’s pretty awful sonically, but things get better with the second track and the rest.  The closing track comes from a later performance in the festival and has backing from a band with Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Woody Herman and Earl Hines. ‘Spoon mentions in one of his intros the greatest male blues singers being Joe Williams and Jimmy Rushing; I’ve long thought ‘Spoon was right up there with them.

1. I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town
2. S.K. Blues
3. Kansas City
4. Goin’ Down Slow
5. Walkin’ By Myself
6. Ain’t Nobody’s Business What I Do
7. I Want A Little Girl
8. I Don’t Know
 9. Early One Morning
10. Reds and Whisky [Incomplete]
11. When I Been Drinkin’

– John Henry

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