It's hard to believe that Jimmy Witherspoon has been singing the blues for nearly 40 years now. His voice is big, dark and resonant as ever. He can still climb into the upper register for emphasis, and his delivery, clenched fist and all, hasn't grown the least bit soft.
His set at Charlie's last night was a veritable encyclopedia of blues styles, ranging from the classic pieces "C C Rider" and "Nobody Loves You" to the postwar blues "Mojo" and "Big Boss Man." In between, there were a few of Spoon's own "breadwinners, songs that kept grits in the pad, Fords in the garage all these years," Among those, of course, was a heartfelt "Ain't Nobody's Business," allowing ample room for the talents of drummer Harold Mann, bassist Steve Novosel and pianist Larry Eanet, who, incidentally, is a treat to watch.
Leaning off the right side of the keyboard, his left foot a counterbalance dangling in the air, Eanet nearly slid off the piano bench on "Tin Tin Deo." He's an intensely animated musician, yet he examines his own playing with a jeweler's eye and brings great clarity and precision to the trio's efforts.
Witherspoon and company appear through Sunday at Charlie's.