189

Phillip Johnston: Page of Madness

Ken Dryden By

Sign in to view read count
Phillip Johnston: Page of Madness Phillip Johnston first drew critical acclaim for his work as a saxophonist and composer in the Microscopic Septet. Since the group disbanded in 1992 (though it reunited for a new recording last year and occasional concerts), he distinguished himself leading various groups of his own (often several at the same time), composing quirky jazz that was avant-garde yet accessible, including several scores for films directed by Doris Dorrie, Philip Haas and Paul Mazursky. He was commissioned by the Film Society of Lincoln Center to compose a score for the 1926 Japanese silent film Kurutta Ippeji (A Page of Madness), which was premiered in New York City in July 1998. This obscure movie was a special challenge as it is not available on DVD, nor readily available in restored condition to the public. The story depicts a retired sailor who has taken a job as a janitor in an asylum in order to look after his insane wife, committed after attempting to drown their child. After a decade of searching for a record label to release this compelling music, Johnston finally issued it himself.

Johnston doubles on soprano and alto saxophones, joined by Joe Ruddick (piano and baritone sax), vibraphonist Mark Josefberg and bassist David Hofstra (all members of his group of that time, The Transparent Quartet), utilizing a combination of written and improvised sections, though they were tightly synchronized to individual scenes. He omitted the extended periods of silence, jesting that he might be sued by the John Cage Estate. While most fans of Johnston's music will not have seen this vintage movie, the music stands on its own merits, conveying the sense of loneliness, despair, confusion and other emotions that the character would feel in such a tragic environment. There are only brief liner notes within the CD, but Johnston provides a link to his website for more extensive notes, along with YouTube links to view film excerpts with the synchronized score. This fascinating music will have immediate appeal to anyone familiar with Johnston's earlier CDs.

Track Listing: Prelude; The Dancer; The Mad Wife; The Visit; The Asylum; Parting the Waters; There's a Riot Goin' On; Home Life; Home Life Ruined; Escape Attempt; The Dream; The Masks; At Peace With a Mop.

Personnel: Phillip Johnston: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Joe Ruddick: piano, baritone saxophone; Mark Josefsberg: vibraphone; David Hofstra: bass.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Asynchronous | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Over the Rainbow" CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "AHEO" CD/LP/Track Review AHEO
by James Nadal
Published: May 23, 2016
Read "The Invariant" CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 14, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!