Charlie Wood

Southbound was the album that made jazz great Ben Sidran take notice of the young Charlie Wood. Wood, who was already establishing himself as one of Memphis’ most respected blues organists, self-produced the disc in 1995, two years before Sidran brought it to international release on Go Jazz. Even at a concise ten tracks, Southbound did more than just announce the presence of a master Hammond B-3 player; it revealed Wood as a versatile bandleader capable of tackling tricky New Orleans funk (“Man on the Money”), torchy jazz in the style of Charles Brown (“After All”), and even sweet Motown soul (“Lucky Charm”) in addition to the standard bluesy shuffles usually purveyed by the instrument’s followers. Evidence of Wood’s irony-laden lyrical style pops up on occasion — earthy tunes like “It All and Everything” and “River of Jive” are a precursor to the kind of material he would fill an entire album with on Who I Am — but for the most part, it’s the performances themselves that are the heart and soul of Southbound. Punchy horn fills from Jim Spake and Fred Ford keep things exciting, and Wood’s understated vocals (which vaguely recall Donald Fagen circa mid-period Steely Dan) sound fresh throughout.