126

Randy Johnston: Homage

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Beginning with 1991’s Walk On and continuing through two more Muse dates (all of which are currently out-of-print), a few sets for High Note and then 1998’s Riding the Curve, guitarist Randy Johnston has championed his own take on the mainstream jazz guitar tradition, doing so with not much of any fanfare whatsoever. But with his second effort for Cincinnati’s J Curve label, Homage, things just might start to change for the better. Johnston believes it to be his best effort yet and I’d be hard pressed to argue.

The premise here is quite simple- pick a few tunes and write a few more that have something to do with some of your influences as a player, gather a top-notch rhythm section, and then add a brassy horn section. Furthermore, hire a capable arranger in the guise of Rich Shemaria to put together the charts and you’ve got yourself a frontrunner. Johnston is, of course, the main soloist here and he carries the show with a warm and burnished tone and a coherent improvisational style that sagaciously uses space and patterns of tension and release. Also taking a few well-placed solos here and there are trumpeter Jim Rotondi, tenor man Eric Alexander, pianist Xavier Davis, and baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola.

The material is particularly strong and just a bit out of the ordinary to boot. For instance, Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel” acquires new life in a sweet version that barely resembles the original, while George Benson’s “The Cooker”, Kenny Burrell’s “Lyresto” and Dexter Gordon’s “Society Red” all benefit from the fact that they haven’t been performed to death in the past. Johnston’s own “Pat & Wes”, dedicated to Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery, features those mellow octaves endemic to both saluted players’ arsenals and “Cedar’s Place” has a beguiling structure and chord progression akin to Cedar Walton’s own aesthetic. Throughout it all however, Johnston maintains his own identity utilizing the tunes as a mere starting point. A more superior homage one couldn’t ask for, wouldn’t you say?

Track Listing: All or Nothing At All, Pat & Wes, The Cooker, Angel, Cedar

Personnel: Randy Johnston- guitar, Jim Rotondi- trumpet, Eric Alexander- tenor saxophone, Nick Brignola- baritone saxophone, Wayne Coniglio- trombone, Xavier Davis- piano, Nat Reeves- bass, Kenny Washington- drums

| Record Label: J Curve Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
DVD/Film Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Freedom is a State of Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom is a State of Mind
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Wild About You" CD/LP/Track Review Wild About You
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "Swallowed by the New" CD/LP/Track Review Swallowed by the New
by Doug Collette
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "Malnoia" CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "The Seasons" CD/LP/Track Review The Seasons
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure" CD/LP/Track Review The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 18, 2017

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!