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Because of its location, Nashville did not become a center for jazz or blues, as did Memphis and St. Louis. Instead, the Tennessee hub has become a city known for quite a few things in general and its country-western music theme in particular. Arkansas-born guitarist Richard Leo Johnson, 44, has spent some time in Nashville and recognizes the melting-pot nature of its culture. Bluegrass, folk, Celtic music and continental European elements show up on Language. While Johnson’s debut album last year represented an impressionistic journey across the U.S.A., this one pays homage to America’s musical roots.
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
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop. But nothing has touched my artistic sensiblities like JAZZ! Two years ago I moved to Sarasota, FL where I renewed my focus on my singing career and I was so impressed with the quality, quantity and generousity of talented jazz musicains in the Suncoast area. I soon partnered with piano legend Billy Marcus and his trio with Don Mopsick and Stephen Bucholtz. What a blast working with these guys and having them back me up on my first jaz album, Here's To You... which was just released on October 1st. I can't wait to see where the coming year brings me! Check out syniacarrolljazz.com