BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Influential saxophonist who never seemed able to connect commercially with the musical style he helped point the way towards with his earliest forays.

Big Jim Wynn began his career in the mid-1940’s and was among the many with a claim to creating or expanding on the popularity of the ubiquitous hit “Ee-Bobaliba” (a/k/a “Be-Baba-Leba” for Helen Humes, or “Hey! Bob-A-Re-Bop” for Lionel Hampton). His later effort “Rock Woogie” was another formative pre-rock side that hinted at the style around the corner.

More notable however was his flamboyant stage show in which he left the stage to parade through the crowds or laid on his back while blowing up a storm, putting on a show that was highly visual and almost lewd in its unrestrained exuberance.

His records largely failed to capture this excitement even when rock came along providing the perfect format for his antics. Unable to take advantage of the tenor sax instrumental craze that dominated the late 40’s rock scene commercially, Wynn increasingly turned to backing others both in studio and especially on stage, eventually re-uniting with longtime friend, blues giant T-Bone Walker, another renowned showman, as his on stage foil, as well as being a frequent bandleader for rock ‘n’ roll package tours throughout the 1950’s.

By the early 1970’s Wynn’s act was a featured highlight of Johnny Otis’s revival concerts that brought back stars of the 1940’s and 50’s rock, blues and jazz scenes. Wynn died in the summer of 1977 at the age of 69.
 
 
BIG JIM WYNN DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
 
 
FAT MEAT
(Specialty 312; July, 1948)
Not strictly an instrumental and hurt by Ted Shirley’s nasal vocals on what otherwise held promise as an off-color record. The bigger flaw however is Wynn ceding the spotlight to others in the band for too long and then not really cutting loose enough when he takes center stage. (2)

BLOW WYNN BLOW
(Supreme 1509; November, 1948)
Wynn finally gets up to speed with the honking style rock demanded, but while it’s serviceable for the time, it’s not quite distinctive enough to lead the charge into new frontiers, meaning the forefather of the style is still struggling to stand out amidst his stylistic offspring. (5)

J.W. BOP
(Supreme 1509; November, 1948)
Another curious effort as this takes attributes from multiple styles and uses them to showcase the band with each member getting a solo, but that altruism does nothing for Wynn’s own dwindling reputation in an era that rewarded sax players who hogged the spotlight in rock. (3)

COLD BLOODED BOOGIE
(Modern 20-634; December, 1948)
Wynn struts his stuff on sax nicely here, this time backing the group’s drummer Snake Sims on vocals, but as solid as both of them are most of the first minute is utterly wasted by letting the other horns dig them a hole they spend the rest of the record climbing out of. (5)

GOOFIN’ OFF
(Supreme 1522; June, 1949)
Another blown chance for Wynn, a reputedly mighty honker who could never fully commit to carrying off that one indisputable trait on record that could help to position him at the forefront of rock’s sax revolution, as this barely works up a sweat at all. (3)