Deep Dive: Jimmy Witherspoon, ‘SPOON

Friday, December 9, 2016
Deep Dive: Jimmy Witherspoon, ‘SPOON

55 years ago this month, Jimmy Witherspoon released his classic album ‘SPOON, which provides us with an opportunity to take a…DEEP DIVE!

Jimmy Witherspoon was a jump blues legend, and if that particular phrase tells you nothing about his music, then let’s try this: the stuff Jimmy was playing back in the day isn’t so terrible far removed from the sounds you were hearing during the short-lived swing revival in the late 1990s. Over the course of his career, he recorded with a host of talented folks, including – but in no way limited to – Long John Baldry, Count Basie, Eric Burdon, Dick Morrissey, Van Morrison, Gerry Mulligan… To sum up, Jimmy Witherspoon was awesome, and there are many who would argue that he was at the pinnacle of his awesomeness when he released his 1961 album ‘SPOON.

Witherspoon’s band featured several more folks from that List of the Talented we referenced a moment ago – Jimmy Bonnd on bass, Teddy Edwards on sax, Herbie Harper on trombone, Al Viola on guitar, Gerald Wiggins on piano, and Gerald Wilson on trumpet – and they do an exemplary job of backing him as he makes his way through standards including “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear from Me,” and “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” among others.

Fans of the jazzy, big band sound of the 1950s and 1960s will likely already be well familiar with Witherspoon, but if you’re only just hearing of him as you’re reading this piece, then consider this an apt gateway drug into his career…and don’t be surprised if you find yourself addicted after as little as a single spin.