Singer, guitarist and pianist Jackie Washington was featured on this site last October, when I posted his contribution to the Mariposa 1976 soundtrack. Born in Hamilton in 1919, Washington was performing in public with one of his older brothers by the age of five, and eventually he and all of his brothers (dubbed The Four Washington Brothers) were entertaining at concerts, dances and churches. In 1941 he was drafted into the army, having previously quit the music business and worked as a porter for the Canadian Pacific Railway. After the war he got a job at a can company in Hamilton, where he played piano on his lunch break for spare change, then moved to Guelph, where he started to play around town a bit in between shifts at a buzz saw factory. In 1948 he started a five-year run as the host of The Jackie Washington Show on CHML in Hamilton, but by the mid-'50s he was working at a tavern as a washroom attendant, then at a shoe shine stand at a racetrack in Fort Erie, although he did sit in on gigs now and again.
By the early '60s, married to his second wife with a young son, he'd pretty much retired from music again, but in '64 he was introduced to the owner of a Yorkville coffee house. This led to a mid-career revival which saw him play with almost every big name in the Toronto music scene at the time, perform at festivals across the country and make several appearances on television and radio. By the early '70s he was back to playing beer joints in and around Hamilton, but in 1976 he recorded the LP I'm posting here and throughout the '80s and '90s he released several more CDs, was inducted into the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humanities by McMaster University. He was still performing as recently as last August, at the age of 89!
Blues & Sentimental, a private press LP released by The Knight II (which I believe was a bar in Hamilton), was produced by Dave Essig and engineered by Bob and Daniel Lanois in March of 1976 at MSR Productions in Ancaster, Ontario. The musical line-up was Washington on guitar, vocals and piano, Tom Evans on clarinet and tenor sax, Michael Gardner on acoustic bass, Bobby Washington on electric bass, Chris Whiteley on trumpet, coronet and harmonica, Ken Whiteley on guitar and piano, and Essig on slide guitar. The album is comprised of bluesy, old-fashioned vocal jazz, distinguished by Washington's distinctive, high-pitched voice and the high quality of the playing throughout. His style always encompassed lighthearted pop as well as jazz and blues, so the four songs here are perhaps more jocular in nature than the usual traditionalist take on those genres.
Miss Otis Regrets
One Foot In The Gutter
Goin' To Chicago
Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.