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Perdido Records

The Midlands Rocks

Charlie Wood - Tomorrow Night

 

 

Ok, we’ll keep this review fairly short, mainly because there’s only so many ways of saying ‘groovy’ and ‘funky’. So here’s the stuff you need to know. ‘Tomorrow Night’ is the 7th album from singer/keyboardist Charlie Wood. Wood was born and raised in Memphis, moved to New Orleans at 17 to soak up the vibe then returned to Memphis to take up a residency in the famous Beale Street with his Hammond organ trio. The gig rapidly became the place to be, leading to Wood jamming with pretty much everyone who’s ever picked up an instrument or held a mic.

Wood, on turning 50, wanted to reflect on where he was and how he got there and hence his latest album, a groovy (see, not an easy word to avoid) collection of self-penned tracks and covers which evoke the musical hubs of New Orleans and Tennessee, seeped in Mississippi cool and effortless groove (sigh).

The opening title track is sheer hipster class, all double bass, brushed drums, handclaps and Big Easy horns. ‘Stay With Me’, as you will see from the above video (if you’ve got past the cocktail recipe), has a definite yacht rock vibe – complete with vocal nods to Michael McDonald.

And on it goes, you feel like you’ve heard these songs before…but in a good way. They’re old friends. There’s oodles of funky Hammond organ, lazy, soulful guitars and louche horns. Like Nutella wrapped in velvet, they’re as smooth and satisfying as biro on a banana skin. ‘Lullaby’ has got that 80’s comedy drama theme song thing going on (a la Moonlighting or Taxi).

The 6 minutes of ‘You Can’t Have My Blues’ is pure shades, pork pie hat, whisky in hand and wisecrack on lips, it’s the sound of a dude who’s been doing this since birth jamming with a band who channel cool through their instruments (fnarr).

And then we’re onto the covers. Al Green is handled with ease, Woods voice is a perfect fit for tackling the Reverend, it’s chilled, mellow, confident…honey on waffles daddio. The tempo is ramped up for a take on B.B. King’s ‘Never Make Your Move Too Soon’, blessed with an incredible live feel from Wood’s band of seasoned pro’s.

‘Killing Floor’ is given a jazz funk makeover and man, does it work! Guitar and Hammond solos spar while an impeccable James Brown backbeat is maintained. The after hours party ends with a take on Otis Redding’s ‘These Arms Of Mine’. It’s a brave man that tries to cover Otis but this is righteous stuff, it stays faithful while being given a slight jazz twist, kudos Mr.W.

So yes, boat drinks and sophisto blues/jazz bars. This is the real thing, performed by a cat who’s been there and played with the best. If you need a dose of authentic chillout cool then this could be precisely what the doctor ordered. A backwards glance at his roots from an artist still moving forward.

 

Steve Swift's Rock Remedy

Charlie Wood- Tomorrow Night

 

 

If you had the chance to play on Beale Street, the hothouse of Blues and Soul in Memphis, whenever you wanted, you might make it a residency, mightn’t you? Charlie did. Literally, at King’s Palace. He’s tickled the ivories for a variety of luminaries including Albert King in his early 20’s.

He’s been doing his own thing for a while now, easily pleasing with his blend of Soul and Blues sounds and on his 7th album he mixes his and others’ work with a sweet swagger and a silky shot.

The title track lines up those horns with claps and a brush Purdie drum shuffle, Charlie getting out of the way of trombone, sax and trumpet lines, what a party. But this isn’t really what’s here. Charlie’s B3 whistles and feels its way into the soulful grooves here, 'Stay With Me' is a calm contemplation with a Soul smoothness when it gets going and the 'One By One' a smoky bar, Charlie’s gritty croon adding to the sitting together and jamming feel, that organ just adding depth. 'The Good Stuff‘ is just that, a sweet and convivial chat with friends, 'Members Only' is a condolence chat for the broken hearted with a comforting B3.

God, when he feels like funking though, he almost struts. Check out the chicken scratching guitar and syncopation of 'Killing Floor' and when his steamy solo kicks in, my word, it’s almost a Wurlitzer. Perhaps the best way to sum him up is through the sweeping but calm explanation of 'You Can’t Have My Blues', Sunday morning after the night before. The mix invites you right into the centre of the music, the sweet spot where you can hear everything, the band play with elan but never ego; this is special.

Pour yourself a whiskey, pull the shades, turn off the lights and bathe in this beauty. Soul, Blues, Charlie is a charmer.

Out On Perdido

Remedy Rating : 4/5 Bed Rest

 

Jazz Journal

Charlie Wood- Tomorrow Night

 

 

Guy grew up in Memphis. What the hell else was he going to do with his life? Charlie Wood just passed 50, which is a good time for a soul-blues voice. His seventh album is a stonker and Stay With Me is the male vocal performance of the year, delivered with equal parts of authority and yearning.

By the kind of happy coincidence that wins me ribald jeers in One Sweet Letter, I got Charlie’s promo on the day I was teaching a graduate class on Lionel Trilling’s Sincerity And Authenticity. I know, I know. Trilling doesn’t really define either concept, but concedes that in its modern sense, authenticity is “staying true to one’s self” rather than to some e(x)ternally defined code, order or tradition. I’ve no idea how “authentic” is Wood’s take on the blues and R&B tradition, but it’s absolutely true to itself. As the young people say, he owns it.

He doesn’t let you forget where this all comes from. To Memphis, With Love (and that comma somehow confirms the quality of the man!) is quickly followed by the Bobby “Blue” Bland-associated Members Only, which is a reminder that Bobby came out of Barretville, TN, with that great heartland voice and melting-pot stylistic that blends folk, country, blues and jazz with absolute ease. Wood does great things with Howling Wolf’s Killing Floor and Otis Redding’s These Arms Of Mine, and it’s here that you realise, a little belatedly, how subtle is his sense of time and phrasing, akin to Kurt Elling’s. He really does put the commas in the right places.

The originals are mostly grouped at the beginning of the set. With the Bee Gees song, it moves over largely to covers, but utterly remade and personalised. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart is a reminder of how heartbreaking a songwriter Robin Gibb was. Makes me want to hear Charlie’s take on Another Lonely Night In New York or Love Just Goes.

The band’s in great shape. The horns shout encouragement on the title track, and there’s plenty of tasty guitar, but Charlie’s organ and piano are the main support. Only one quibble: those damned fade-outs – performances as good as these deserve to be brought to a proper close.

 

Jazzwise Magazine

Charlie Wood- Tomorrow Night

Perdido Records DOR-1801 ★★★★

 

 

It’s always a pleasure to hear new music by the Memphis-born, London-based singer, songwriter and pianist Charlie Wood and Tomorrow Night is no exception.

Presenting a perfectly balanced set of originals and covers united by their raw emotional power, the 12-song collection is both a celebration and a tribute, with Wood looking back and distilling all of his musical experiences and influences from his 15-year-plus residency at the King’s Palace Cafe on Beale Street, Memphis, where guests included the likes of B.B. King, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Joey DeFrancesco and more. Channelling Memphis soul and blues to moving effect, with arrangements that range from the weightily brass-laden to the pleasingly intimate, the album showcases its creator’s knack for penning striking originals that linger long in the memory. Standouts include the title-track, with which the album bursts into life, the deliciously in-the-pocket groove of ‘The Good Stuff’, plus the tender ‘Lullaby’.  The judiciously chosen covers include a soulful ‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart’, penned by Barry and Robin Gibb and most famously covered by Al Green on Lets Stay Together, B.B. King’s rambunctious ‘Never Make Your Move Too Soon’ (“One love ahead, One love behind, One in my arms and one on my mind”), plus a funky reworking of the classic Howlin’ Wolf blues ‘Killing Floor’.

 

London Jazz News

INTERVIEW: Charlie Wood (New Album Tomorrow Night)

 

 

"10% head, 45% heart and 45% gut" is how singer-pianist CHARLIE WOOD describes his new album Tomorrow Night which is his seventh studio album. It will be launched on Perdido Records and features 12 songs which bring him closer to his Memphis roots. Interview by Emily Palmer: 

LondonJazz News: What’s the story behind the new album? 

Charlie Wood: It’s been a long time in the making! The record is based on the premise of returning to my musical roots. I grew up in Memphis listening to R&B and blues, music that had a profound effect on me. I suppose every record I do is informed by that, but this one explicitly references my musical heritage. It’s a combination of some original material and songs by other people that I really love. 

LJN: What sort of sound can listeners expect from the album? 

CW: I didn’t want the material to sound dated. I wanted to do more contemporary music that had an emphasis on the grooves, vocal delivery and lyrical content that I grew up listening to. For me the record is 10% head, 45% heart and 45% gut and I hope the listeners feel that too. Music is like food; most people don’t need to get too far down the road with it before they decide whether they like it or not. I want people to like the record, and I don’t want people to have to think about it for very long either! 

LJN: Can you tell us a bit about the musicians you worked with? 

CW: This kind of music is heavily reliant on the nuances of individual players and the tension that exists between a combination of players. London has such a wealth of fantastic musicians and I was fortunate enough to have some of the best in the recording studio with me. The rhythm section (Chris Allard on guitar, Dudley Phillips on bass and Nic France on drums) are all well-educated, groove players that I have worked with for a long time. With this type of record the horns don’t normally get much of a look in, it’s more about how they play together, but on the title track they really had a chance to have some fun. It’s Mark Nightingale on the trombone, an effortless player that I can’t be without, Brandon Allen who is a monster of a saxophonist and the brilliant Ryan Quigley on trumpet. And listeners will hear a familiar voice on backing vocals – my wife, Jacqui Dankworth

LJN: The album features songs that are self-penned, how would you describe your writing process? 

CW: For this record, I already knew that I wanted visceral, blues melodies so I concentrated on the music first. But typically, I’m sat the piano and the lyrics and melody occur to me simultaneously. A phrase has a certain melody and pitch to it, it’s just about elaborating on that innate musicality. I care a lot about the meaning of the lyrics, more and more so as I get older. I want the lyrics to have a complexity but at the same time to be succinct. Less is more, and I have learnt that through experience.

LJN: Is there one track on the album that stands out for you?

CW: It will be the one that is the least listened to – as is often the case – an original, You Can’t Have My Blues. It’s about someone that is down and out and has had everything taken from him apart from the one thing that can’t be taken away. The melody would feel at home with a Gospel R&B treatment to it; it’s soulful and it feels good. It’s kind of a reharmonized melody which I like. I write a melody with one idea for the harmony and then I disturb it. It’s a chance for it to be genuinely interesting to you, the writer, because you have the chance to see what else can come from it, something that you didn’t think of when you first wrote it. You can pique your own curiosity and I find that really fun and rewarding. This song is the most overt expression of putting a more contemporary harmony behind something with an unmistakably R&B feel. It goes in unexpected places, it’s got a nice spirit to it. 

LJN: How did you pick which covers you wanted to record?

CW: I wanted to do under-recorded songs by people that I love. I had to do an Otis Redding song, a BB King song and absolutely had to do a song by Bobby Bland. Upon reflection, there’s a lot of heartbreak in this kind of music! I recorded Bland’s Members Only, it’s a song that I’ve always loved and is very rarely recorded. The lyrics are simple but really direct. It’s such a great song!

LJN: How do you approach songs that have already been recorded by such iconic musicians? 

CW: You can’t really better them. I don’t want my versions to sound like a tribute act, but that’s something you can’t really get around. A blues song can be stretched out, the basic succinct format allows for it to be taken in a whole new direction. That’s just not the case with an R&B song; if the arrangement is altered it’s simply not the same song anymore and doesn’t have the same emotional content. We’re not at liberty to disturb arrangements like that. I can’t really change the material, but I can make it my own simply by living through it.

LJN: How do you want the record to make listeners feel?

CW: The music I grew up listening to has got so much heart, it’s sincere and has a real emotional effect on people. I wanted this record to have all of that and I hope it moves the listeners. (pp)

 

Midlands Music Reviews

Jacqui Dankworth and Craig Ogden- Fishguard International Music Festival

 

 

It's a tricky drive to Rhosygilwen from Fishguard (as the Irish would say, you'd better start from Cardigan), but it's so welcoming once you're there, and this heartwarming two-hander from Jacqui Dankworth and Craig Ogden was overwhelmingly rewarding.

Dankworth arrested us all at the opening with her moving Waly,Waly, her smoky mezzo-soprano delivering this timeless classic with such purity, Ogden's guitar as attentive as a baroque continuo harpsichordist.

In fact so many of Ogden's contributions to the duo evoked the textures of baroque or classical figurations, the mere six strings of his instrument coaxed into an almost infinite range of colours.

His accompaniments were amplified to match Dankworth's soaring voice, but his guitar was allowed to speak on its own terms in two absorbing solo sets, including a Villa-Lobos Choros I authentic in so many respects, and Gary Ryan's gimmicky and spectacular Rondo Rodeo.

Jacqui Dankworth brought a huge gamut of vocal techniques (only once tempted into a discreet scat) and breath-control -- such magically-shaped conclusions! -- to her offerings, which included Crazy, Bridge over Troubled Water, Moon River, and Rodgers and Hart's It never entered my mind, all delivered with the subtlest of concluding inflections before the voice settled on the final note.

Wonderful performances; but for me, and I suspect for many others, the icing on the cake was the duo's account of Marvin Hamlisch's The Way We Were, delivered with the dignity of a heartbroken simplicity, reaching out to all of us in this packed audience.

Christopher Morley

Reviewsphere

Charlie Wood- Edinburgh Jazz Festival

 

 

I first encountered Charlie Wood in my home town of Falkirk (an unlikely pairing if ever there was one) when he and his partner on stage and in life Jacqui Dankworth celebrated the great musical partnerships of the golden age of jazz and blues drawing upon songs from their 2016 album Just You, Just Me.

If she was the flickering flame who danced in the dark and caught the eye, he was the glowing embers whose husky and conversational style (a cross between Randy Newman and Ray Charles) stirred the soul and warmed the heart. Qualities which were in abundance in his rare solo gig on the closing night of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.

To squeeze fourteen songs into a 70 minute set would suggest a whiplash delivery with curt introductions, but nothing could be further from the truth. For each track was carefully and often comically set up with a diamond cut anecdote full-stopped with either a fact (the lyrics to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind” were crafted by his roommate Stuart Gorrell who swapped musical notes for bank notes and never wrote another lyric in his life); a name (Mose Allison, a personal hero and writer of “City Home”, who played over 250 gigs a year well into his eighties before checking out in the winter of 2016 – pre-Trump, wise man); or a quip (“I’m not wearing these glasses to be cool, I need them to read the track list”).

And the track list in question was a sublime collection of songs from his soon-to-be released album “Tomorrow Night” (originally entitled “To Memphis, With Love” which was dropped on the grounds that “there’s already one” by Cyndi Lauper); his recent album “New Repose”, the title track of which was a heartfelt hymn to humanity whose soul lies in the lyric “there is only motion, there is no repose”; and music inspired by and hailing from his hometown of Memphis and his second home The Big Easy which he describes in “Never Going To Stop New Orleans” as “a funky microcosm of the whole human race” where for much of his youth he had a “fantastic time” – to which he added with comic candour “so everyone tells me”.

Not only is Wood a mighty fine musician who is not so much steeped in the blues but to use his own description “swamped”, he is also a terrific songwriter and an engaging storyteller. Each word earns its place. Adjectives are in short supply. And everyday nouns are arranged into a series of snapshots which together paint a picture about the complexities of modern-day life and love. Hence why “The Promised Land” won first prize in the 2015 USA Songwriting Competition (jazz category).

The Blues is his drug of choice (along with the obligatory bourbon) as evident in his self-penned track “Music Is My Monkey” about channelling “the wildness within”. A piano solo without the luxury of a bass player which he jokingly said in future years would become “a left hand exercise” for students. And he should know, for was recently made a Professor of the Guildhall School of Music where he teaches voice and improvisation.

A rare solo gig indeed (in both senses of the word), but one which was lapped up by the appreciative audience who are no doubt looking forward to the October release of “New Repose”. “This is not an ad,” Wood said at the start of his gig. “You can’t get it yet.” Well, this is an ad: buy, download and in the words of “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps “Burn baby, burn”.

Lynn News

King's Lynn Festival - Jacqui Dankworth and Craig Ogden, St George's Guildhall, King's Lynn

 

Jacqui Dankworth and Craig Ogden

 

In years to come, the audience privileged enough to enjoy singer Jacqui Dankworth and guitarist Craig Ogden at St George's Guildhall may just say, "I was there when..."

The first Friday night concert of this year's King's Lynn Festival was as pared-down and as stripped back as anyone could wish for.

All that was needed was, in Dankworth, an acclaimed jazz singer of at least 25 years' standing, and Ogden who first made friends with the guitar at the age of seven.

But anyone expecting a night of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong numbers were to be gently let down as, instead, Dankworth and Ogden took their audience on a tour of some of the greatest songwriters of the last 60 years.

Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Burt Bacharach, Hal David and James Taylor all featured in songs, such as "The Water is Wide" (Taylor), Crazy (Nelson), A House Is Not a Home (Bacharach/David) and "It Never Entered My Mind" by Rodgers and Hammerstein, spellbindingly arranged by young guitarist James Girling.

Indeed Ogden described his protege at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, as a man who "improvises like a legend" "truly, disturbingly talented".

However, the quality of singing and playing was harmonised with the genuine warmth of the two performers who pitched their spoken interludes between songs with gems such as "The Guildhall has always got a lovely, special atmosphere", from Dankworth.

Ogden was given free rein to play two sets of melodies, one by pre-World War II Paraguayan guitarist Augustin Barrios and the other by Englishman Gary Ryan, before the two performers combined for an encore of Tom Waits' "Ever Since I Put Your Picture In A Frame".

This was a concert where the singing voice and stringed instrument spoke for themselves.

 

Reviewsphere

 Just You, Just Me- Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood

 

As evidenced by their opening track Two To Tango, the theme of jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth and her pianist, arranger, singer-songwriter and “not half bad husband” Charlie Wood’s excellent UK tour which rolled into Falkirk Town Hall on Thursday night is the art of collaboration.

And joining them onstage to celebrate great musical partnerships of the golden age of jazz and blues, the first half of which drew largely from their 2016 album Just You, Just Me, was the Brazilian-born but Scottish-based Mario Caribe on double bass and “probably the best drummer in the country” Tom Gordon.

Both of whom complimented the billed artists with an array of dazzling solos which left the “small, but perfectly formed” audience of Falkirk bairns (well, silver-haired citizens) in the spirit of the Simon and Garfunkel-penned closing number Feelin’ Groovy.

Dankworth’s crystal clear and pitch perfect voice unfurled like a roll of fine silk; effortless in delivery, meticulous in technique, which shone brightest in a sotto voce rendition of the bossa nova classic Corcovado aka Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.

If she is the flickering flame which dances in the dark and catches the eye, Wood is more the glowing embers which warm the heart and stir the soul with a conversational and understated style, always one or two steps off the beat. His Randy Newman-cum-Ray Charles delivery at its best in the Sam & Dave soul ballad When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.

But the pinnacle of the evening, by a long shot, was their Romani-inspired interpretation of Michel Legrand’s The Windmills of Your Mind which began in the haunting manner in which it is traditionally delivered before shooting off in all directions like a box of fireworks through a series of hand clapping and tongue clacking gyrations, culminating in a hair-raising howl to the moon.

Their next port of call is The McMillan Theatre in Somerset on the 17 November followed by Lichfield Guildhall two days later. So if you are in either area and have yet to catch their tour, to quote from the opening track of their second set, hop aboard their “desert caravan” for a night as radiant as the “stars above that shine so bright”.

Jazz Views

Chris Allard- Invisible Landscape

 


Chris Allard (gtr) Oli Hayhurst (bs) Nick Smalley (drs) Charlie Wood ( vcl, keys) 

This is the fourth recording by contemporary guitarist and composer Chris Allard. The ex Guildhall and Malmo Conservatoire classical student came into jazz by way of the much trodden path of NYJO and along with leading his own successful trio has worked with Dave O'Higgins, Jacqui Dankworth, and The BBC Big Band. He has also been awarded for cinematic composition at the Berlin Film Festival. A non-cliched linear improviser of great originality and talent he is joined by the accomplished bass man Olly Hayhurst and award winning drummer Nick Smalley. Augmenting the line up on two tracks is the soulful vocalist and Fender Rhodes specialist from Memphis, Charlie Wood who has for too long remained a well kept secret on this side of the Atlantic.The album consists of seven originals by the leader plus three well chosen compositions by others. The music is very much guitar led in an original style with little vibrato alongside overtones of Pat Metheny. The opening tracks "Morphic Resonance" and "Critter" set the scene well with intelligent un-cluttered lines delivered at a relaxed tempo over subtle shading from bass and drums. The tempo increases on the highly descriptive title cut featuring a fine bass solo over guitar back drop. Any vocal performance of the Loesser/ McHugh classic "Let's Get Lost" will always be compared to Chet Baker's interpretation from the fifties. This refreshingly new arrangement from the American vocalist certainly more than holds it's own with an unaffected and bluesy laid back delivery over an atmospheric keyboard and guitar accompaniment. Further originals, the melodic ballad "Extended Mind", the drama of "Hekla" plus "Finn" with it's kaleidoscopic intensity serve to show the leaders emerging composing skills.The superb Wayne Shorter composition "Fall" from the 1967 Miles Davis album Nefertiti is given a refreshing new identity with a full and deep exploration of the theme. Oli Hayhurst's bass is then given it's freedom on the atmospheric "Distant Stormclouds" before Charlie Wood returns in sultry vocal mode after a fine guitar intro to Mose Allison's "Was" bringing to a close an excellent recording of modern music full of variety, intensity and interest. (see also www.chrisallard.co.uk)

Reviewed by Jim Burlong

UK Vibe

FOUR STARS for Charlie Wood's "NEW SOUVENIRS" in March issue of UK VIBE Magazine

Mail Online

Charlie Wood awarded Brass Note on Beale Street, Memphis (USA)

 

SINGER CHARLIE WOOD HONOURED BY AWARD OF BRASS NOTE ON JAZZ WORLD'S VERSION OF HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME

 

by Sam Creighton for the Daily Mail

PUBLISHED: 12:57, 31 December 2014 | UPDATED: 14:52, 31 December 2014

     

From Elvis Presley to Justin Timberlake, some of music’s biggest ever names adorn the pavements of Beale Street.  The engraved brass notes running along the street in Memphis, Tennessee, are often called the musical equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

And now a new name has been added - jazz pianist and singer Charlie Wood, who has just finished recording his sixth album in the UK.  Having been brought up in Memphis and having spent years playing in the city’s clubs and bars, achieving the accolade has been one of his greatest dreams.

 

He said: ‘I played thousands of nights on Beale Street in Memphis during my residency there.  Every night I'd walk past those brass notes inscribed with the names of my musical heroes: bluesmen like BB King, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Albert King; jazz greats like Phineas and Calvin Newborn, Jimmie Lunceford, Onzie Horne, Fred Ford and Honeymoon Garner; and R&B stars like Otis Redding and Al Green.

 

‘It was a humbling but very therapeutic way to prepare for the gig, thinking about all those great Memphis musicians and what I might be able to contribute.  Being awarded this honour, having a brass note with my name on it set amongst so many of the musicians I love and admire - it's one of the highest accolades I could ever hope for.  It's a lot to live up to, but I'll do my best to deserve it.’

 

Wood was studying for a degree in English Literature, playing music as a hobby, when in 1989 he received a call from blues guitarist Albert King asking him to join his band.  In the 25 years since he has never looked back and played at a dedication ceremony for the brass note earlier this year.

 

Voted one of the most famous and popular boulevards in the U.S., Beale Street had its heyday in the 1920s with a glittering line of clubs, theatres and restaurants with a seedy underbelly.  Gambling, drinking, prostitution and murder were rife - not to mention the pickpockets who preyed on those enjoying the music.

 

The tradition of brass notes, a nod to Hollywood's Walk of Fame, sprang up in the 1980s after the area was redeveloped and now honours more than 100 jazz greats.

 

Charlie Wood's latest album New Souvenirs was released in November.

 

R2 Magazine

FOUR STARS for New Souvenirs from R2 Magazine:

 

CHARLIE WOOD

****

New Souvenirs

(Perdido)www.perdido.co.uk

Charlie Wood was an admired figure on the music scene of his hometown, Memphis, and toured in Albert King's band before, some years back, moving to London where his talents as a musician, singer, songwriter and arranger are becoming ever more appreciated.

 

On New Souvenirs, his sixth album, the writing is exceptional, the often-ruminative songs featuring well-honed, literate lyrics, as on 'Ghost Town', which was written with the technical precision and linguistic flair of a classic from the Great American Songbook; the poetic 'The Tide'; and 'Detaché', which includes a quote from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, no less.  Only very occasionally does Wood's songwriting quality-control falter, as on 'Promised Land', where the metaphor of being led to said promised land by a lover is surely too well-worn to be evocative.

 

Wood sings with warmth and sensitivity and his hipsterish delivery of the surely autobiographical 'Music Is My Monkey', for example, is very effective and he's an outstanding arranger - there's lovely, delicate string and brass writing on several tracks - and player, on piano, B-3 and other keyboards.  Brit jazzers like guitarist Chris Allard accompany and solo masterfully.

Trevor Hodgett, November 2014

R2 Magazine

Sean McGhee interviews Charlie Wood for R2 Magazine:

 

INSIGHT

 

Memphis-born but UK-based, Charlie Wood is a pianist, singer and songwriter equally at home in blues, jazz, soul, or r'n'b.  His latest album, New Souvenirs, has just been released on the Perdido Records label.  My initial impression on hearing it was that Wood reminded me of a less theatrical blend of Van Morrison and Georgie Fame.  "Both those guys are musical heroes of mine, so I'd be honoured to be mentioned in the same breath.  Stylistically I'd say what I do is very similar, so maybe I'm following in their footsteps."

 

New Souvenirs blends elements of jazz, blues, r'n'b, soul and pop-rock songwriting effectively - all topped up with a classy delivery.  A seemingly difficult album to file in the record shop racks.  "Are there still any record racks left to be filed within?  I heard Irving Berlin used to go into New York music shops and move his sheet music to the front of the stacks.  File me under Irving."

 

With so many musical bases ticked on the album, who is Wood aiming at or hoping will listen and pick up on New Souvenirs?  "I reckon people who dug my Southbound record from the mid-90s might be particularly likely to find things they also like on New Souvenirs, but I'm grateful to have listeners and fans of all descriptions."

 

Charlie toured as part of Albert King's band back in the late 80s when still a young man.  What does he think he learned from King?

 

"Musically I learned a great deal about tension and release, pacing a solo or a song or a set so the energy builds.  i learned a lot about the mechanics of electric blues, what the bass should be doing, how that works with the drums, where the other instruments and parts fit in, et cetera.  It's like a jigsaw puzzle - the pieces need to fit right, or it won't stay together.  I also learned how to survive on the road under tough conditions, which is a valuable lesson."

 

Growing up in Memphis he was very aware of the city's musical status and that has had a lot to do with his passion for playing, as described in "Music Is My Monkey" on the new album.

 

"So many great musicians have come out of Memphis, and so many great recordings made there, it's impossible not to be aware of that legacy and influenced by all that beautiful music, past and present.  Memphis is and has historically been a place where there are lots of bands playing in lots of different venues every night, typically for three or four hours per engagement, so the sheer frequency and variety of gigs keeps you playing constantly.  I think if you didn't love to play, you wouldn't last long in that environment."

 

now based in the UK and married to renowned jazz vocalist Jacqui Dankworth, Charlie Wood is a busy and versatile musician.  "I'm doing a lot of songwriting these days and liking what I come up with, so I reckon there'll be another originals album coming along pretty soon.  I'd love to do a duet record with Jacqui and we've been talking over ideas, so that's high on the list for sure.

 

"I'm excited about the composing and arranging work I've been doing for Jacqui with some incredible classical musicians like The Brodsky Quartet, Roxanna Panufnik, the Liverpool Philharmonic and others, so I'm really interested in pursuing that further.  I'm just grateful to have so much interesting and rewarding musical work to sink my teeth into."

Sean McGhee, November 2014

Jazz Journal

this just in: another 4-star review for "New Souvenirs"

plus a profile on Charlie Wood from Jazz Journal

Bedfordshire On Sunday

IF you’re born in Memphis, Tennessee, you don’t have to play the blues; but it helps.

 

It’s not clear whether it’s something in the water or something in the air but the roll call of names who have put Memphis on the world musical map is starry to say the least. And whereas in Hollywood that’s exactly how celebrities are honoured on the sidewalk – with a star, in Memphis, legendary musicians such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Justin Timberlake are commemorated with a Brass Note on the Beale Street Walk of Fame.

 

Earlier this week, singer/songwriter/keyboard player, Charlie Wood was in his home town of Memphis to accept his Brass Note on the Walk of Fame. The ceremony coincided with the European release of New Souvenirs, the first album he has recorded in the UK with British musicians.

 

His wife, Jacqui Dankworth, daughter of jazz superstars Sir Johnny Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine, couldn’t be there to see Charlie receive the accolade; she was busy in a recording studio in London. But having co-produced New Souvenirs, she’s Charlie’s biggest fan. Well, next to Paloma Faith, that is, who says of Charlie: “I fell in love with this man’s voice the first time I heard it. He is the essence of soul and blues.”

 

Now, back home in Bedford, Charlie and Jacqui are busy organising a programme of gigs at The Ent Shed in Castle Road. While there’s going to be a press launch of New Souvenirs early next month in Chelsea, Bedford audiences will get the chance to hear it first on Friday.

 

Charlie not only wrote all the songs on the album, he also did all the arrangements. Beautifully melodic ballads follow complex but intriguing contemporary jazz numbers to create a style that is a loose cross-over between jazz, soul and blues.

 

If Paloma Faith has good things to say about Charlie, then Jacqui knows why. “We first met at a gig in Pizza Express in Soho about 12 years ago,” she says. “I was teaching in London and a group of 10 of us went along to Charlie’s gig. I’d heard his voice first and it’s rare to hear a voice that you instantly connect to. It blew me away.”

 

Jazzwise Magazine

Charlie Wood - NEW SOUVENIRS

****

While Charlie Wood's previous release on the Memphis-based independent label Archer Records, his fine 2012 album Lush Life, served up an 11-track collection of covers, New Souvenirs sees the singer, songwriter and keyboardist return to the fertile territory of self-penned material.  Co-produced with his wife, Jacqui Dankworth, it's a collection of 12 memorable songs of a quite startling diversity, united by their pointed emotional power.  The album's lead-off song, "No Repose", is a slow-burner that builds to an impassioned, string-laden climax.  "Music Is My Monkey" is a funky personal credo driven irresistibly onwards by Wood on clav and organ.  The flowing, iridescent textures of "Until the Fall" find Wood at his most poetic, while the state-of-the-human-race "Mercy" is all the more compelling for its understatement.  "Tube" is a witty, rimshot and bass-driven critique of Wood's adoptive hometown's underground system ("It's tough to be a rat down there".)  By contrast, "The Tide" is all gorgeous close harmony backing harmonies.  The album closes as it opens, with one of Wood's beautifully crafted, piano-led ballads, "Winter Song".  This is an album that taps straight into the core of Wood's formidable artistry.  -Peter Quinn, JazzWise, Oct. 2014

Penny Black Music

Charlie Wood has won an ever bigger following over the past few years. His compositions are highly original and his influences wide – from American country through blues to jazz. But, as evidenced by this latest album, Charlie's virtuosity as both vocalist and hugely accomplished keyboardist is never less than stunning. He is a fine producer too. And the range of Charlie's original material on ‘New Souvenirs’ is impressively broad. From the cool, relaxing, evocative ‘Winter Song’ through the very different ‘Music is My Monkey’ and the contrasting ‘Detache’,this album is a delight from beginning to end. There are masterful sax and piano solos (with powerful bass) in the middle section of ‘Don't Think’ and the melodic and subtle vocal harmonies in ‘Mercy’ are perfect. Indeed, each track is a joy.

I never underestimate the sheer effort and talent required to produce an album of this quality – and credit is due to all involved including co-producer and backing vocalist (and Charlie's wife!) Jacqui Dankworth plus Ben Castle on sax, Chris Allard on guitar, bassist Dudley Phillips and Nic France on percussion. They and others have ensured Charlie Wood's ‘New Souvenirs’ is a truly great album which should guarantee Charlie Wood even wider recognition.