Jimmy Witherspoon featuring Hal Singer – Big Blues
He'd cut his first hit in 1949. By 1981 when this set was cut Spoon not only knew his way around a recording studio -he was roaring like a lion. So in this case, very big. Peter King, Mike Carr and Jim Mullem were top British jazzmen ferfectly in tune with the singer's needs and drummer Harold Smith was an American then living in Europe. They're joined by one of Spoon's contemporaries, tenorist Hal 'Cornbread' Singer, who's R&B/Jazz versatility resembles Spoon's.
Singer's muscular horn blends seamlessly with Spoon's warm vocals. And Spoon finds plenty of space for his sidemen.
1. You Got Me Running - 3:19 2. Whiskey Drinking Woman - 8:22 3. Once There Lived a Fool - 4:04 4. Just a Dream - 4:44 5. Lotus Blossom - 8:21 6. Big Boss Man - 5:15 7. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out - 4:22 8. That's the One - 7:14 9. Let's Think Awhile - 7:46 10 . Swing on It - 4:10 11 The Point - 6:05 12. The Snow Was Falling - 5:54
Jimmy Witherspoon (vocals on 1-7) , Hal Singer (tenor sax 8-12, vocals on 12) , Peter King (alto sax on 1,2,5,6,8-12, tenor sax on 4,7) , Mike Carr (organ, piano) , Jim Mullen (guitar) , Harold Smith (drums)
1. AllMusic - Stewart Mason
A CD reissue of a 1981 double LP, Big Blues is a sprawling piece of modernized electric jump blues that honestly never quite catches fire despite the best efforts of Jimmy Witherspoon and his guest star, tenor saxophonist Hal "Cornbread" Singer. Both Witherspoon and Singer play and sing with soulful grit and a relaxed ease, but the band backing them never quite comes together. One issue is that there's no bass player on the album, just keyboardist Mike Carr working a set of bass pedals with his feet à la Ray Manzarek of the Doors; this leaves drummer Harold Smith out in the cold, unable to work up the kind of in-the-pocket groove this kind of slow-cooking blues needs to get over. The overextended song lengths are no help either; one-third of these 12 songs break the seven-minute barrier, with "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman" and "Lotus Blossom" weighing in at a staggering eight and a half minutes each. Although both Witherspoon and Singer get in a few good solos, the length is simply not justified by the mostly lackadaisical performances.
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