Jimmy Witherspoon was one of the greatest blues singers from the mid 40's until his death in 1997. He had a smooth, warm, and mellow voice and was able to move effortlessly from blues to jazz. He got his start recording with Jay McShann and had a hit in 1939 with "Ain't Nobody's Business." He recorded with a number of labels in the 50's, including Chess. I first heard him via his recordings for Chess. His songs were a bit more refined and polished than the standard Chess fare, but effective nonetheless.
|Witherspoon with Robben Ford|
A few days before I went to the Little Big Store, I had been searching for a copy of Evenin' Blues online, but hadn't committed to ordering a copy. As I flipped through the CDs that day, it was on the last row of blues selections, so I snatched it up in a hurry. You really get a taste of how versatile a singer Witherspoon was on this set, which is mixed with upbeat jumping blues ("Money's Gettin' Cheaper," "Good Rockin' Tonight"), smokey after-hours ballads (the title track),and vintage R&B ("Don't Let Go," which I first heard via Isaac Hayes' discofied version in the late 70's, and "Kansas City").
The CD adds a few alternate versions, which are as good as the originally released songs, so there's an added bonus to listening to this great music. Jimmy Witherspoon was one of the best vocalists in a variety of settings and genres for a long time and Evenin' Blues may be his best straight blues recording, so if you happen upon it at your friendly used record store, snatch it up!