Richard Leo Johnson: Language
With his acoustic guitars out front, Johnson blends various folk idioms in small ensemble format. His most prominent partners, Paul McCandless and Andy Reinhardt, infuse natural timbres alongside Johnson’s acoustic instruments. On a medley of “”Cheek to Cheek” and “Dance in Heaven,” both soprano saxophone and accordion contribute to the acoustic guitar’s dance-like rhythms. After all, much of this music has roots in celebratory dance. In a few instances, Johnson goes off in a different direction. His “Sketches of Miles” introduces Spanish classical guitar to the album. Along with Glen Moore, Warren Haynes and Cyro Baptista, the leader recalls the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration and provides an honorable tribute. Johnson’s “New West Helena Blues” mixes bluegrass with a Mississippi Delta blues mood. The guitarist exhibits virtuosic skill on the double-neck instrument, sounding as if he were several people performing together.
A photography major in college, Johnson has developed an eye for landscape. His willingness to seek unique aural blends to express his visions places the guitarist in the company of today’s brightest stars.
Track Listing: Hip Hop Zep; Sweet Jane Thyme; Event Horizon; Music Roe; Chuck Soup; Cheek to Cheek/Dance in Heaven; Happy Talk/Dream a Dream; Sketches of Miles; New West Helena Blues; DaddyDaughterDuo; 1-5-90; Freestone Peach; Ritual Ground.
Personnel: Richard Leo Johnson- 12-string guitar, 6-string guitar, double-neck 12- and 6-string guitar, pedal steel guitar; Reggie Washington- electric bass; Paul McCandless- English horn, oboe, soprano saxophone; Glen Moore- upright bass; Matt Wilson- drums; Andy Reinhardt- accordion; Cyro Baptista- percussion; Warren Haynes- acoustic slide guitar; Tess Johnson- cello on
Record Label: Blue Note Records