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Max Johnson: Big Eyed Rabbit

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Bassist Max Johnson is one of the most prolific and versatile musician/composers in music today and likely on the verge of a major breakthrough. Barely past the year's mid-point Johnson has offered three fine releases with different groups and distinctly different styles. Recording with Kirk Knuffke on cornet on Johnson's namesake trio release The Invisible Trio (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2014) the approach was a broad mix of multi-layered structure and unfettered originality. Shortly afterward, Johnson released The Prisoner (NoBusiness Records, 2014) with a quartet that included saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and violist Mat Maneri. Here the avant-garde music was inspired ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Max Johnson: The Prisoner

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NYC-based bassist Max Johnson already boasts an impressively strong discography, after just two entries: Quartet (Not Two, 2013) and Elevated Vegetation (FMR, 2012). With a new crew on board for The Prisoner, he tackles that hoary chestnut the concept album. Except of course that in the medium of jazz, this doesn't mean a string of banal lyrics squeezed into a narrative straitjacket, rather in this case a series of musical constructs inspired by the 1960s British TV series of the same name. For those who don't know the program it was an influential and surreal thriller about a former secret ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Max Johnson Quartet: The Prisoner

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Double bassist Max Johnson's new suite The Prisoner is inspired by the futuristic British cult TV series from the end of the sixties by the same name. This series was a source of inspiration for many artists, among them The Clash, Iron Maiden, and avant-garde sound artist David Shea. New York-based Johnson assembled a quartet of like-minded improvisers--tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, viola player Mat Maneri, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, all in powerful performances--for an updated sonic meditation on the themes of the series. The seven pieces refer to characters in the series, all called by numbers, and situations from the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Max Johnson Trio: The Invisible Trio

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The sophomore release of New York-based Max Johnson Trio, after Elevated Vegetation (FMR 2012), finds this highly versatile acoustic trio focusing more on written compositions and less on free improvisation. The trio--Johnson on double bass, prolific Kirk Knuffke on cornet and Ziv Ravitz on the drums--enjoys stretching Johnson's compositions in surprising ways. Knuffke expands, disintegrates and re- structures Johnson's harmonic ideas in an expressive and imaginative manner, adapting himself to the shifting pulse of resourceful Ravitz and loose timekeeping colors of Johnson, who often uses his bow. All create an open, delicate balance where all play ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Max Johnson Trio: The Invisible Trio

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The musical lineage within the small circle of bassist Max Johnson's trio is unquestionably among the finest in cutting-edge jazz. The leader has played with bassist William Parker, alto legend Anthony Braxton, trombonist Steve Swell and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. In the case of Johnson's current trio, his drummer, Ziv Ravitz, is also a member of the Lee Konitz Quartet and has performed with Joe Lovano, Tomasz Stanko, Aaron Parks and many others. Kirk Knuffke ranks as an equal to Rob Mazurek and Taylor Ho Bynum as one of the top cornet players in jazz. On The Invisible Trio--the second outing ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five with Max Johnson

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Meet Max Johnson:Max Johnson is a New York-born bassist, composer, and bandleader best known for his work in New York's free jazz and bluegrass scenes. He has played with numerous artists including Anthony Braxton, Candido Camero, Henry Grimes, Perry Robinson, Vernon Reid, William Parker, and countless others.Instrument(s):Bass.Teachers and/or influences?Henry Grimes, Jimmy Garrison, Mark Dresser, Mark Helias, Trevor Dunn, Reggie Workman, Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Giuffre./I knew I wanted to be a musician when...It was more of a gradual motion, where music changed from a hobby to something ...



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