Lush Life (2012)
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.”