And those sidemen! Wynton's regulars (Walter Blanding. Dan Nimmer, Carlos Henriquez and Ali Jackson) catch the spirit of the blues with strong backgrounds and exciting improvisation. Willie brought along his long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael. Without that haunting blues harp sound, Two Men With The Blues would not have been the same.
First up is "Bright Lights, Big City," taken up tempo with a happy shuffle beat. The closer is a high-energy treatment of "That's All," not the 1952 ballad, but the Merle Travis hit that was inspired by a black church sermon. In between, there are up blues ("Caldonia," "Rainy Day"), easy-going blues ("Basin Street," "Night Life," "Ain't Nobody's Business") and the traditional "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It," where Wynton goes down to New Orleans with trumpet and voice (he also sings on "Ain't Nobody's Business") and Willie's guitar proves he came to play as well as sing.
Hoagy Carmichael is channeled by Willie's sweet singing of two of his greatest standards, "Stardust" and "Georgia on my Mind." Wynton's eloquent solo on "Stardust" is all his own, as you might expect, and his trumpet talks on "Georgia." In his economical comping, pianist Dan Nimmer displays a feeling for space and a sensitive touch. His "Stardust" intro is particularly impressive. This session was recorded during two nights in January 2007 at Lincoln Center's Allen Room in New York. Wish I had been there. I can't stop playing Two Men With The Blues.