Blues vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon is at the peak of his performing career during this 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival set, where he is backed by a young but enthusiastic electric band that he had recruited after hearing them open for him in a club the previous year. Witherspoon is in a playful mood, frequently speaking to the crowd. The program is filled with several Witherspoon's most popular numbers, including the humorous "I'm Going to Move to the Outskirts of Town," "Kansas City," and "Early One Morning." Following his raucous take of "Walkin' by Myself," the stage curtain is evidently pulled prematurely, provoking an extended outburst from the singer, who repeatedly threatens to cut the curtain with his knife to the delight of the crowd. His relaxing "Ain't Nobody's Business What I Do" is truncated as he explains to the crowd that he is dedicating "I Want a Little Girl" to Jimmy Rushing (a blues giant who had passed away a few months earlier), incorporating a few asides to the crowd and featuring Robben Ford's blistering guitar. Ford incites the audience with his solo in "Goin' Down Slow" with the leader shouting his name repeatedly to encourage their response. Unfortunately, the master tape runs out prior to the end of "Reds and Whiskey," a playful song inspired by Witherspoon's dangerous mixing of pills with booze, where a hippy hands his alto sax on-stage, with the leader passing it on to Ford, who manages to solo for a chorus in spite of its nasty mouthpiece. "When I Been Drinkin'" is a bonus track from Witherspoon's 1959 appearance at Monterey (a concert that is available in complete form in the compilation The 'Spoon Concerts) features the vocalist with an all-star jazz band that includes Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Woody Herman, and Earl Hines.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden