A tuba, a harmonica and smooth bluesy vocals join the musical makeup on this good finger-poppin’, foot tappin’, bass walkin’, bluesy Memphis jazz project by Jim Shearer and Charlie Wood. The Memphis Hang is mostly comprised of well-interpreted covers and versatile arrangements. It’s Memphis personified.
Jim Shearer and Charlie Wood are no newbies just testing their newfound talents on listeners. Shearer holds a doctorate in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He teaches tuba, euphonium, music history and music appreciation to graduate, undergraduate and honors students at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He has appeared throughout the United States as a guest artist with various wind ensembles and orchestras and in solo recital performances in The Great American Tuba Show.
Charlie Wood is a talented and versatile singer, songwriter and keyboardist whose eclectic musical style ranges from blues to jazz to R&B. He spent 1990 on the road as keyboardist for legendary blues guitarist Albert King, with whom he toured the U.S. and Europe. He has also performed and recorded with numerous other regional and national acts, has worked as composer and musical director for local theatre groups and independent filmmakers and has played and sung on countless jingles and album projects. For over 15 years, his band the Charlie Wood Trio performed nightly at the King’s Palace Café in Memphis. During their tenure at the Palace, such luminaries as B.B. King, George Coleman, Joey DeFrancesco and Rufus Thomas dropped by to sit in with the band. Good company.
The sassy, self-assured and slightly playful collection kicks off in strong stride with Theolonius Monk’s "Well, You Needn’t." By the time you get to the 40s tune "Mound Bayou" and Charlie Wood’s own "That Note Costs a Dollar," you’ve pretty much gotten into this sunny yet bluesy groove production and are smilingly settled back in that easy chair or have begun to whirl your honey around the kitchen floor in a lively swing move or lazy two-step, both of you laughing wildly at the feel-good aura presented here. This is the stuff that lets you leave your perceived woes at the door as you enter this duo’s world, if only for a sunshiny moment or two.
This album is a retreat from many confining elements of life, including the sometimes too-stuffy, cerebral forms of jazz. As the duo states here, "This CD represents what happens when music lovers and friends get together with no preconceived notions. Our only plan was to hang out, have fun and create music unconstrained by the demands of the commercial music industry." Thus, The Memphis Hang was born. How very fortunate we are.