Jimmy Witherspoon: 'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do
(aka 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do)


'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do
(aka 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do)



The 'Spoon Concerts (Fantasy 24701)

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Jimmy Witherspoon (vocals), Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Ben Webster (tenor sax), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), Woody Herman (clarinet), Earl Hines (piano), Vernon Alley (bass), Mel Lewis (drums).

Composed by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins


Recorded: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, October 2, 1959


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Famously recorded by Bessie Smith in 1923, “'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do” became a signature tune for Jimmy Witherspoon (born in 1923), who recorded it dozens of times during his more than 5-decade career. Witherspoon originally hit with the song in 1947 singing for Jay McShann’s band. That version remains Witherspoon’s best-known take on the composition.

When Witherspoon was making straight-ahead Kansas City blues in sessions between 1945-1953, "Tain't Nobody's Business” was one of a string of early hits he had when he broke out as a blues shouter in the mold of Joe Turner. But by the end of the 50s, ‘Spoon’s professional music career had petered out as tastes changed.

Witherspoon was tracked down by the concert promoters of Monterey Jazz Festival, and on October 2, 1959, with his mother watching him perform for the first time, Witherspoon reinvented himself as a singer of heretofore unexplored nuance, capable of sophisticated phrasings far beyond his earlier recordings. Whether improvising words or sliding into verses, Witherspoon proved supremely able to adapt his voice to almost any musical accompaniment. A better all-star group to make this point could not have been imagined, and Webster in particular has chemistry with Witherspoon as their phrasings ring together.

This deceptively laid-back performance from that night in Monterey is a blueprint for how Witherspoon was reinterpreting his youthful shout blues with total confidence into his new adult sound. For the next decade, on more than a dozen albums on Verve and Prestige, Witherspoon would continue to deftly mix blues and standards, while working with every sort of backing imaginable, and demonstrating an ease few others would ever show.

Reviewer: Richard Abowitz


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