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Saturday 8 May 2010

Big Jim Wynn - Blow Wynn Blow

Side A
1. Ee-Bobaliba
2. Buzz, Buzz, Buzz
3. I Want A Little Girl
4. Cherry Red
5. Rock Woogie
6. Shipyard Woman
7. J.W. Bop
8. In A Rhapsody In Minor

Side B
1. Blow Wynn Blow
2. Jelly Kelly Blues
3. Fat Meat
4. Farewell Baby
5. Put Me Down Blues
6. I'm The Boss (At My House)
7. Goofin' Off
8. Down To The Ocean

A pioneering R&B saxman on both tenor and baritone, Big Jim Wynn could consider himself unlucky on two counts. First off, while working the LA nightspots with his small jump band in the mid 1940s he wrote an infectious ditty called “Ee-Bobaliba” which became a staple of his act. Such was its popularity with the club audiences, Big Jim even renamed his band the “The Bobalibans.”

In 1945 Helen Humes (accompanied by the Bill Doggett Octet) recorded a version for the new LA indy label Philo. “Be-Baba-Liba” as it was now called was one of the biggest R&B hits of the year, but as Miss Humes took composer credits, not a cent wended its way to Big Jim’s pocket. To add insult to injury, Lionel Hampton recorded a version called “Hey! Ba-ba-re-bop” which became the second top selling R&B record of 1946, tucked in behind Louis Jordan’s “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie." Composer credits for the rewrite were taken by Curly Hammer and Lionel Hampton, so once again Big Jim got zilch.

Big Jim and his band recorded his song for 4 Star in late 1945, but despite a fine lead vocal by Claude Trenier, this version remained in the shadows of the “cover” versions by Humes and Hampton. Big Jim’s version is a great jump record, but the problem was that the combination of nonsense syllables and standard blues verses lent itself to rewrites and the subsequent loss of composer credits and record sales to more established acts.

In fact Big Jim Wynn was destined never to have a hit record, despite doing the rounds of the LA indies such as 4 Star, Gilt Edge, Modern, Supreme and Specialty as well as the major label Mercury. Apart from writing “Ee-bobaliba”, Big Jim is probably best remembered by R&B fans for providing the backing on many of T-Bone Walker’s fine recordings for Imperial in the early 1950s. The two had first played together in the LA club scene as far back as the late 1930s when T-Bone was doing a dance act. Big Jim’s band not only worked in the studio with T-Bone but also accompanied him on the road. As the band included Eddie Davis on tenor sax, Big Jim moved over to baritone sax.

Big Jim’s live act was something to behold as he pioneered many of the tricks which would be taken up by more renowned “honkers.” As George Moonoogian says in his sleevenotes: “He would kick, dance, shuffle, strut, go down on his knees, roll and literally provide his own mini-show on stage, all the while blowing wild solos on his sax. He was the first of the Los Angeles area sax players to perform these antics on stage …” And here bad luck struck a second time, as one Cecil J. McNeely was a regular spectator at Big Jim’s shows and “borrowed” his act to carve out a (thank God) long career as king of the tenor sax wildmen.

As the fifties wore on, Big Jim concentrated more and more on session work, with the occasional foray on the road backing acts such as Etta James and Richard Berry. Even in the 1970’s, and now aged well over sixty, he was still appearing live with the Johnny Otis show and managing to tear up the audience with his wild stage shenanigans. As he said in an interview: “One of my desires is to live to be a hundred. I try to keep in shape by exercise and eating health foods…” Well they do say that bad luck comes in threes. Within a year of that interview he was dead.

This 1985 LP was issued on the “Whiskey, Women and …” label, which was a joint enterprise run by the magazine of the same name and Mr R&B records. I only ever did find one issue of the “Whiskey, Women and …” magazine, in the Glasgow branch of Tower Records. The magazine (which was indescribably brilliant), the record shop, and the record company are, like Big Jim Wynn himself, no longer with us.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps.

Download from here:

1. Ee-Bobaliba (4-Star 1026, 1945)
2. Buzz, Buzz, Buzz (4-Star 1026, 1945)
3. I Want A Little Girl (4-Star 1025, 1945)
4. Cherry Red (Gilt Edge 528, 1945)
5. Rock Woogie (Gilt Edge 528, 1945)
6. Shipyard Woman (Gilt Edge 527, 1945)
7. J.W. Bop (Supreme 1509, 1948)
8. In A Rhapsody In Minor (Gilt Edge 531, 1945)
9. Blow Wynn Blow (Supreme, 1509, 1948)
10. Jelly Kelly Blues (Gilt Edge 531, 1945)
11. Fat Meat (Specialty 312, 1948)
12. Farewell Baby (Supreme, 1522, 1948)
13. Put Me Down Blues (Specialty 312, 1948)
14. I'm The Boss (At My House) (Million 2004, 1954)
15. Goofin' Off (Supreme 1522, 1948)
16. Down To The Ocean (Million 2004, 1954)

Recommended purchase:

The 4 CD set “Honk for Texas” on the JSP label (JSP7760) has one CD entirely devoted to Big Jim Wynn, plus 10 tracks on another CD shared with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. You’ve just gotta buy this one!


the jazzman said...

Absolutely great album. Thank you.

mrb394ever said...

Tons o' fun. Thanks! Always appreciate your commentary, too.

Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Gyro1966 said...

Thanks- I have some Big Jim Wynn, but not this LP. I'll have to buy the "Honk For Texas" comp today as well. Thanks for the info.

Gyro1966 said...

Ha- I just looked and I own the JSP Box set "Blow For Texas" already. I just have never opened it yet. I buy way too much music!

boogiewoody said...

The same thing happens to me Gyro - I've got the Rare West Coast Jump 'n' Jive boxset and the new Complete Chuck Willis 3CD set(both JSP) still to listen to. I thought mp3 blogs were supposed to harm CD sales ...

chazz said...

Newbie here.Not much into Blues other than Chi-Town Electric or Revival and Swamp (love that Excello-some fine southern fried doo-wop on that label too).More of a Jazz guy.But one forgets it cross pollinates from Texas Swing to whatever.And whose here?Jazz-bo Heavyweights lime "Hot Lips" Page and Leo Parker one fo the greatest Baritone players ever in any genre.Right on!Thanks for Lenoir that landed me here!

Baron said...

Thanks ... having enjoyed the Liggins lps I've chosen Wynn to be next in my honking education ... Baron

KurtGS said...

How about re-upping this one????