Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mitch Woods - Jammin' On The High C's

Mitch Woods is a real solid conveyor of boogie woogie piano and jump blues and for over a decade has been running Mitch Woods Club 88 on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues cruises. It started simple enough when as an invited guest on the cruise, he noticed the ship had a piano bar that wasn't being used, so he simply started playing and people came by to listen and musicians came by to sit in. Soon the jams were lasting until daybreak and someone put up a sign saying Mitch Woods' Club 88 which became the Club 88 Piano Bar and Blues Lounge n the cruise with now 4 piano players on every cruise alternating shifts from early evening to until ?.

Woods had a variety of performances from the January 2015 cruise recorded and they have just been issued on Club 88 Records (distributed by VizzTone), "Jammin' On The High C's" which is subtitled "Live From Mitch Woods' Club 88 on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise." Its a fun recording with his boogie and jump piano joined on different selections by members of Roomful of Blues, Julia Magness, Billy Branch, Victor Wainwright, Papa Chubby, Coco Montoya, Lucky Peterson, Tommy Castro and Dwayne Dopsie.

Mostly the music is renditions of well known blues standards played in an ebullient fashion with Woods handling the old Smiley Lewis classic "Big Mamou" to open it up. Highlights are Lucky Peterson singing Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City," Billy Branch reprising Sonny Boy Williamson's "Eyesight to the Blind," Papa Chubby handling "Wee Wee Hours," and Dwayne Dopsie joining on a rocking "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On." One also gets entertained by Tommy Castro singing Little Richard's "Rip It Up," and a nice "Rock Me Baby" from Coco Montoya.

My major criticism is the lack of fuller personnel information (although I might imagine it would be pretty lengthy), and more seriously the lack of composer credits. These performances are entertaining and fun if not classic and the sense of good times comes though on this nicely put together recording which includes Woods reciting the history of Club 88. Certainly one of aspects of the Cruise that makes it a consistent sell-out.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. This review originally appeared in the September-October Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 362). Here Mitch previews this disc.

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