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Album Review

Born in El Paso and raised in Los Angeles, James A. Wynn claimed to have been the very first West Coast saxophonist to perform while laying on his back, insisting that Jay McNeely saw the act as a youngster and later copied the "clowning" in order to attract attention. While gigging in Watts, young Wynn befriended dancer, vocalist, and guitarist T-Bone Walker. Their friendship lasted for years and Wynn shows up from time to time in the T-Bone Walker discography. This compilation documents Jim Wynn's first year as a professional recording artist, tracing a trail of 4 Star and Gilt Edge recordings and finishing off with four sides waxed for the Modern label in 1946. Big Jim Wynn's Bobalibans were named after "Ee-Bobaliba," a novelty jump tune written by Wynn but first recorded by Helen Humes. Wynn's own version is heard here with a vocal by R&B legend Claude Trenier, a veteran of the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Other singers employed by Wynn included pianist and smooth crooner "Lord" Luther Ruper and rowdy blues and jive man Pee Wee Wiley. Upright bassist Ted Shirley was also a throaty blues shouter who carries on crustily in a manner similar to Pleasant Joseph on "Get Yourself in Line." Nestled in among all of these pungent vocals, the three instrumental tracks feel particularly fresh and frolicsome. "Winnin' with Wynn" delivers a good taste of West Coast bop. "Wynn's Boogie" rocks a lot like the Roy Eldridge Orchestra and "Organ Grinder Swing" settles in like a visitation from Jimmie Lunceford.


Born: 21 June 1912 in El Paso, TX

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s

Saxophonist and bandleader Jim Wynn was born June 21, 1912, in El Paso, TX, but grew up in Los Angeles, where his first instrument was the clarinet. Switching to tenor saxophone, he began his professional career with Charlie Echols and was a sideman on hundreds of West Coast recordings, including a long association with Johnny Otis. As a bandleader (often billed as Big Jim Wynn), he recorded sporadically from 1945 to 1959 with a dozen different labels, including 4 Star/Gilt Edge (which issued his...
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1945-1946, Jim Wynn
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