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Johnny Winter: True to the Blues - The Johnny Winter Story

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With the release of From His Head to His Heart to His Hands earlier this year, Legacy Recordings proved it was possible to put together a career-spanning retrospective, even if the artist's discography--in this case, the late blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield--spanned several disconnected labels. Now, less than one month later, Legacy does it again with yet another bluesman who, over the years, has also lost much of the visibility and a lot of the commercial success he achieved from the late '60s through the '70s--a time when so much more seemed possible, and before so much music turned niche. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Chang, Angharad Davies, Jamie Drouin, Phil Durrant, Lee Patterson, John Tilbury: Variable Formations

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Variable Formations was recorded at a gig at London's Café Oto in February 2013. The music on it was the final set of the evening, having been preceded by a solo piano set from John Tilbury in which he used themes and sound samples from the 1939 film The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a semi-improvised duo set from violist Johnny Chang and Canada-born synth player Jamie Drouin who were visiting from Berlin, and a trio set from violinist Angharad Davies, Lee Patterson on amplified objects and electronicist Phil Durrant playing pages from Eva-Maria Houben's composition 'Von Da Nach Na' as ...

ON AND OFF THE GRID

Johnny Smith: The Man, The Legend

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On June 11, 2013, guitarist Johnny Smith passed away. He was 90 years old. Some may have never heard of him, but in the world of jazz guitar he was legend.There will be many articles written about him. Besides the historical content of his accomplishments, I want to write about what he meant to me on a personal level and the thousands of other guitarists throughout the world.I was 14 years old when I started attending John Adams High School in Ozone Park, New York. Adams was a large school and had over five thousand kids ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tony Malaby/ Per-Oscar Nilsson / Johnny Aman / Peter Nilsson: 9 Stygn

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The sophomore release of Swedish guitarist Per-Oscar Nilsson strengthens his ties with American jazz. His debut, Now! (Connective, 2010), with his own group, featured saxophonist Marcus Strickland. 9 Stygn, recorded a year later, features Nilsson as the main composer for a quartet comprised of saxophonist Tony Malaby and fellow Malmö bassist Johnny Åman, who collaborated with Nilsson on his debut, and experienced drummer Peter Nilsson. Per-Oscar Nilsson's compositions are structured with clear melodic lines, careful, linear progressions deeply rooted in the jazz guitar tradition, yet still offer enough room for other musicians to comment and articulate. A ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Hodges: Yeah...About That

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The funky, jazz-focused Yeah.....About That brings to mind the sounds of the early Brecker Brothers. Groove seems to be the primary focus of this nine-song CD from the mind of Oklahoma City native, Johnny Hodges. Hodges started playing the trumpet by the end of his fifth grade year, going on to help his high school jazz ensemble win the state competition three out of the four years he was in high school which enabled him to attend Central State University on the coveted Alumni Scholarship. Hodges is currently the Assistant Conductor at the Big Apple Circus, and freelances around the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Dunn: Cornet Blues

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In hindsight, it seems natural that trumpeter Louis Armstrong's arrival onto the New York jazz scene of the 1920s would put a lot of players out of work. Yet apparently not every New Yorker was waiting for some guy from New Orleans to show them how it's done. As Mark Berresford's informative liner notes explain, Johnny Dunn was one of the most popular and respected pre-Armstrong trumpeters, performing with W.C. Handy as well as blues singer Mamie Smith, and influencing, among others, trumpeter Bubber Miley (and perhaps by extension the early Ellington band). As these 25 tracks ...

BOOK EXCERPTS

The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story

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[Editor's Note: The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story (Scarecrow Press, 2012), by Gregg Akkerman, is the long-overdue biography of a singer who, amongst other things, achieved considerable fame for his classic collaboration with intrepid saxophonist John Coltrane, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963).] Several years ago I was riding in a car to a jazz gig with a few cohorts when “Lush Life" from the iconic John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album began playing on the stereo. “I heard everything on the album was recorded in one take," said my friend in the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis & Johnny Griffin Quintet: Tough Tenors Again 'N' Again

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It's been over a year since Promising Music's last series of lovingly remastered and repackaged titles from the classic MPS catalog of the 1960s/70s, but they're back with two 2012 reissues that, once again, demonstrate the breadth and depth of a German label that ran the gamut from straight-ahead to fusion, and from down-and-dirty blues to the freest of the free. First up is Tough Tenors Again 'N' Again, truly a lost 1970 classic of muscular and unrepentantly down-the-middle jazz from the twin salvo of saxophonists Eddie “Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin. The two tenor men first joined forces in ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Johnny Hodges: Second Set

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Johnny Hodges Second Set Avid Records 2011 Alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges left Duke Ellington's band in 1951 feeling underappreciated and underpaid and convinced that he would have better luck on his own. Unfortunately he was never able to turn his considerable artistry into a lucrative career, and was back with Ellington in a few years for good. Working with Ellington was definitely where he belonged; his fluttering, gusty sound was one of the benchmarks of the band. Yet his brief solo career produced a couple of handfuls of great, if not classic, records, four ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Moholo-Moholo / Dudu Pukwana / Johnny Dyani / Frank Wright: Spiritual Knowledge And Grace

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Accidents are part and parcel of any kind of improvised music. Such occurrences can be fickle things with a capacity to make or break a situation. So, when Chris McGregor was prevented from joining the first night of a Dutch tour by The Blue Notes in 1979, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Dudu Pukwana and Johnny Dyani embraced the accidental non-appearance of their pianist colleague and took to the stage. Another accident, though admittedly much happier one, was the presence of tenor saxophonist, Frank Wright, who happened to be in Eindhoven on the same night and available to join the ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story

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Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis StoryGeorge LipsitzHardcover; 264 pagesISBN-10 0816666784University of Minnesota Press2010 For six decades, Johnny Otis played just about every role you can play in the music business: musician (on drums, vibes and piano), singer, songwriter, arranger, bandleader, talent maven, producer, business manager, promoter, radio and television personality, author and nightclub owner. In the age spanned by the ends of WWII and the Vietnam wars, Otis' musical and social impact on black culture in and around Los Angeles seems impossible to overstate.Johnny ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Mandel Featuring Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra: The Man and His Music: Johnny Mandel Conducts the Music of Mandel

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In May, 2010, legendary composer/arranger Johnny Mandel performed three evenings with the all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, immaculately preserved in this release. In this rare appearance in his native Manhattan, the Los Angeles-based Mandel returned decidedly to his big band roots, which included service in brass sections, more than five decades ago, with Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Rich and Count Basie, amongst others. He also demonstrates that his musical genius remains undiminished, engaging in genial musical descriptions between all the tracks. Mandel launches the program with his “Low Life," a swinger he contributed to the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's

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Once known as the “fastest tenor in the west" for executing fast notes with ease, saxophonist Johnny Griffin leaves one last recording to remember him by with Live At Ronnie Scott's. The album documents a two-night engagement in May 2008, at the legendary London jazz club, to celebrate the artist's eightieth birthday, and features a host of jazz luminaries, all there to pay tribute to a man known as “The Little Giant" of the tenor saxophone.Griffin, who passed away in France in 2008, where he had lived for the past 24 years, was a fixture on the European ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Griffin: Live At Ronnie Scott's

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Live At Ronnie Scott's is likely to draw in a lot of jazz listeners for two reasons. First, this album was the final recording that the late Johnny Griffin--known as a saxophone speed demon--made as a leader. While other unreleased material might make its way to the market at a later date, this is Grffin's last “authorized and artist-approved" release. The second draw has to do with his inter-generational band, featuring multiple marquee names like drummer Billy Cobham and trumpeter Roy Hargrove. While Cobham is often associated with fusion drumming, and Hargrove has played the roles of ...



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