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Russ Johnson: Working on the Tightrope

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New York trumpet player Russ Johnson's got a substantial résumé as a sideman on projects with players like Curtis Fowlkes, Johnnie Valentino, and Jenny Scheinman, but he's perhaps best known as a co-leader with Ohad Talmor in the longstanding Other Quartet. The side projects demonstrate his astonishing versatility, sensitivity and a technique that is unsurpassed by any trumpeter working today; the Other Quartet does so as well, besides showcasing some of Johnson's fine compositions--even if Talmor writes the majority of the group's material. Johnson finally goes it alone as a bandleader/composer on his remarkable new OmniTone CD Save Big. I ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Russ Johnson and Sean Jones: Save Big and Gemini

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Russ Johnson Save Big Omnitone 2005

“Saguache, the opening tune on trumpeter Russ Johnson's album Save Big, might be called a “WPA track--"worth the price of admission. It's a laid-back groove that evolves beyond feel-good into a feel-great exchange between Johnson and his partner-in-sublime, altoist John O'Gallagher. Along the way, Johnson deftly wields a mute to speak, cry, and sing through his trumpet. Save Big is as auspicious a leader debut as they come. Along with O'Gallagher, bassist Kermit Driscoll, and drummer Mark Ferber complete the pianoless quartet. It's a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Russ Johnson: Save Big

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Russ Johnson Save Big Omnitone 2005

The title of Russ Johnson's Save Big is supposed to evoke the essence of the American phrase “Save Big! in a way that is direct and to the point. What it means here in this truly wonderful and important album is this is American music; not just that jazz is American in its core, but that this is American jazz. This is not to say that the tunes or overall feel come from the black experience in America, not just because some of the tunes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mick Rossi/Russ Johnson: New Math

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On New Math trumpeter Russ Johnson and pianist/flutist/percussionist Mick Rossi expand the limits of improvisation and invention. Their duets are musical poetry slams, a blueprint for performance jazz, with three-digit numbers identifying the songs on this envelope-shredding disc. “2.70” begins with a wailing trumpet salvo from Johnson that sounds like a Dixieland ululation, with Rossi’s piano trilling behind him. An elephantine burst is the opening sound of “3.30.” Johnson provides the dramatic, fragmented backdrop as Rossi articulates the landscape. On “1.22” Rossi goes outside the box by literally going inside the box to turn the piano into a multidimensional percussive ...



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