New Souvenirs

Charlie Wood’s first ever UK studio album ‘New Souvenirs’ was released 3 November 2014 on Perdido Records. Featuring 12 brand new, self-penned tracks, the album is his strongest and most personal so far.  The singer / pianist has crafted an eclectic set of songs that reflect his own upbringing in Memphis, where he was steeped in jazz, blues and R&B soul – and where he was recently honoured with a Brass Note on Beale Street bearing his name, the Memphis music equivalent of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Whilst the songs on New Souvenirs wear their diverse influences proudly, they are melded into a cohesive whole by Charlie’s impressive lyrical élan, drawn perhaps from his academic background – Wood was pursuing a degree in English Literature when he got the call from legendary blues guitarist Albert King to join his touring band back in 1989.  The album was co-produced by Wood and his wife, renowned jazz vocalist Jacqui Dankworth.

Of ‘New Souvenirs’ Charlie himself says,

“ This is my favourite project since Southbound (GoJazz, 1997).  I’m happier with it than I ever was with any of my previous work.  I feel really good about the songwriting, both musically and lyrically.”

Wood chose musicians who could interpret the sentiment of his work, but who were also versatile enough to just follow the muse and were happy to stray across musical genre in order to do so.  Musicians featured include Chris Allard (guitar), Dudley Phillips (bass), Nic France (drums), Tom Walsh (trumpet), Ben Castle (sax) and Mark Nightingale (trombone).  Three tracks also include a string section featuring members of the Britten Sinfonia, led by violinist Magnus Johnston.  Of the band Charlie said simply,

“ The musicians were incredible, individually and as an ensemble.  They each brought so much to the project in terms of expertise, ideas and just happy, creative vibes. The tracks seemed to come together by magic.”

Having cut his teeth in Memphis – where he even had the honour of having an official ‘Charlie Wood Day’ declared! – Charlie spent many years there performing nightly with his Hammond organ trio in a long-standing residency at King’s Palace on Beale Street.  The gig became known to touring musicians and locals alike, attracting impromptu sit-ins from B.B. King, Georgie Fame, Joey DeFrancesco, George Coleman, Mulgrew Miller, Alvin Batiste, and many others.

Charlie had already received stellar reviews for his previous original releases, including “Southbound” and “Who I Am” on Ben Sidran’s GoJazz label and “Flutter and Wow” on Memphis-based Archer Records. He’s also becoming recognised as a talented and original arranger (he wrote all the horn and string arrangements on this album), with recent scores performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Brodsky Quartet, the Liverpool Philharmonic, MYJO, and numerous others.



Lush Life

Taking its title from the classic Billy Strayhorn track, the solo piano and voice album was recorded in Memphis at Archer Records’ Music+Arts Studio with jazz vocalist Jacqui Dankworth producing. Dankworth joins Charlie singing on the duet “Alone Together.”

The recording of Lush Life in Memphis in January of 2011 was really the result of a bit of serendipity.

“Jacqui and I were in Memphis for a couple of weeks visiting my parents, and Ward Archer (Archer Records) called and asked if I would be interested in making a recording while I was in town—just piano and voice, straight up, whatever is on your fingers.”

Charlie made time. Balancing visiting with family and giving Jacqui a tour of New Orleans, he was able to spend three days in the studio.

“I love recording this way. Nothing premeditated. Just capturing the performance live to real magnetic tape – my favourite.”

These eleven songs have been on Charlie’s fingers since he played and sang them every night for several years while holding down a residency on historic Beale Street in Memphis. Charlie grew up listening to these tunes with love and admiration. They introduced him to the craft of songwriting, the art of interpretation, of putting one’s stamp on a song without obscuring the charm or essence of the tune that made it attractive in the first place.

Lush Life is Charlie Wood’s first album of cover songs.

“It’s a departure for me. I’ve always been at least as focused on songwriting as on performance, and I’ve recorded mostly original albums. But I’ve never made entire album of songs I didn’t write. But man, these are great songs here.”

Having Jacqui Dankworth on hand to produce was another bit of serendipity. Already familiar with Charlie’s repertoire and style, Jacqui was keen to produce the project.

“I knew she could help me make this record better. The songs are so ingrained that any clever new arrangements would have seemed unnatural. Jacqui, however, helped me distill what I was doing into something that showcased the strong points of my performance and created more of a cohesive narrative throughout many of the songs. As a recording artist herself, she’s also aces at knowing when we need another take and when we’ve got it. We sing together often, but having her sing “Alone Together” with me on Lush Life was an unexpected and very great pleasure.”

Lush Life is Charlie Wood’s seventh album release and his second with Archer Records. Other Charlie Wood albums include Flutter and Wow (2009, Archer), Charlie Wood And The New Memphis Underground (2007), Lucky (2006), Somethin’ Else (2005), Who I Am (2000, GoJazz), and Southbound (1997, GoJazz)



Flutter and Wow

Flutter and Wow is foremost a testament to his ability as a tune-smith, but also reveals a deep understanding of works from other notable practitioners of the craft. Produced by Norah Jones collaborator Adam Levy, the record is a paragon of tastefulness, showcasing Wood’s broad musical palate, brooding lyrical prowess, and prodigious abilities as a stylist. It features breathtaking originals from the Memphis-based key specialist, plus covers from artists like Costello, Waits, and Cohen. His interpretations demonstrate a deep appreciation for these songs and an unpretentious refusal to generate either cleverly perverse arrangements or carbon copies.

Flutter and Wow is distributed in the UK, Italy, and Spain via Proper Distribution. Available at Amazon.com, iTunes and autographed copies are available at Archer Records.



Charlie Wood And The New Memphis Underground

For this record Charlie assembled his New Memphis Underground, a virtual who’s who of local musicians whose members have played and recorded with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Albert King, Al Green, Eddie Floyd, and many other blues/soul/R&B legends. With 10 new originals leading the way and a couple classic soul numbers up his sleeve, Wood once again brings his prolific talents to the forefront for another sizzling album of clever, jazz-tinged songs whose musicality is spread across most of the American roots-music spectrum.



Somethin’ Else

The 2005 all-original album from the baron of Memphis B-3 swings with all kinds of attitude. Somethin’ Else bears Charlie’s definite stamp, as he wrote all of the songs and horn arrangements. He also plays the piano, wurlitzer, Hammond b-3, clavinet, and Fender Rhodes in addition to delivering those smooth and unmistakable vocals. In addition, he receives backing help from Gerard Harris (guitar) and Jim Spake (sax) on this album that is a must for Mose Alison fans.