Jimmy Witherspoon was either a blues singer who worked from a jazz perspective, or a jazz singer with blues tendencies, or most accurately, a blues singer who applied jazz rhythms to a gospel delivery, which makes him, in some ways, a less propulsive version of Ray Charles. This disc of his earliest recordings, most of them released on Modern Records, shows Witherspoon predominantly as a shouter, and he sounds like a man used to years of fronting a small jazz orchestra. In time his microphone technique would improve, and he learned how to let subtle nuances into his singing, working both ends of the hard/soft dynamic into his phrasing. But these tracks find him belting things out, and while that's effective, it also gets a little samey after a few songs, so it's songs like "Rain, Rain, Rain," which feature a more measured vocal style, that really stand out here. Working mostly with pianist Gene Gilbeaux and his bop-influenced small orchestras, these tracks have a transitional feel, but it wouldn't take Witherspoon long to figure out what to do. His wonderful "Ain't Nobody's Business," a runaway number one R&B hit in 1949, was just around the corner.