A fixture on Beale Street playing the Hammond B-3, with whom legendary guitarist Calvin Newborn would often join, Charlie Wood has a new Inside Sounds release, Lucky, that brings a soulful, jazzy sophistication to the blues.
Through the magic of overdubbing, Wood plays virtually all of the instruments here aided by Kirk Smothers’ saxophones. The opening Can’t Teach That Stuff is a sizzling rocking boogie woogie where he talks about his musical life, including how Albert King took him on the road, with hot solos from Smothers on tenor and Wood on the B-3. It is followed by a nice down-in-the alley rendition of Percy Mayfield’s The River Invitation, with his evocative, smoking singing.
Echoes of Professor Longhair reverberate on Wood’s celebration of the Crescent City and his hopes for its survival with his faith in the human spirit, Never Gonna Stop New Orleans. What’s It Gonna Take is rollicking piano blues where he asks his woman what it will take to slow her down and get to her. Ray Charles’ Lonely Avenue is slowed down in a nice reworking while Ear Candy has a nifty lyric about telling one’s lover what she or he wants to hear.
There is a fine cover of Mose Allison’s One of These Days, with Wood sounding very comfortable handling the vocal and laying down some choice piano, while the closing rendition of W.C. Handy’s Beale Street Blues is a wonderful performance with Wood and his piano joined by Billy Gibson who adds some harp on this intimate sounding performance.
There is a funky ambiance throughout this and plenty of space for Wood’s keyboards and solid vocals. Wood also adeptly provided a full ensemble sound although the rhythm sounds a bit mechanical (although certainly better than a rhythm loop). Overall Lucky is a most enjoyable release.
This review originally appeared in the August 2007 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 296). I likely received my review copy from Inside Sounds.