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Johnnie Valentino: Stingy Brim

Mark F. Turner By

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Appearances can be deceiving. After glancing at the front cover of Stingy Brim and reading some of the information in the package, you may think this is just a typical organ/guitar combo. But what becomes apparent when you listen is that this is some very modern jazz—unique compositions and great sounding music. Johnny Valentino, a Los Angeles-based guitarist, composer and sound designer, commemorates what he states as the "100 anniversary of the tuba's demise as the keeper of the bass line in jazz.

The music does indeed feature the tuba as the bass instrument, but as part of a multi-textured quintet with strings (guitar, mandolin), keyboards (Hammond B3, harmonium), horns (saxophone, clarinet) and percussion. This musical mix of contours is shaped, manipulated and performed by artists who know the genre and understand how to create music that is listenable, creative and fun.

Valentino is a serious guitarist with abundant chops and an openness to technical experimentation, making use of colorful loop-based effects on the atmospheric "Stone Balloons." The title song is a swinging, upbeat piece where his multi-layered solo contrasts with the sounds of a grinding B3, the tuba's throaty growl, and colorful drum work.

The music on Stingy Brim encompasses a smart group aesthetic as the band covers everything with style and attitude (like a stingy brim hat). Whether doing a N'awleans stomp on "Dog Eggs, engaging in free jazz exploits on "4M2, or dabbling in sound collages on "Off Balance, these players combine composition and group improvisation on this memorable recording.


Track Listing: Stingy Brim; Dog Eggs; Oyster Bay; 4AM; Return; Stone Balloons; Where When & How; Coyote Cowboy; Off Balance; All Monk's Children.

Personnel: Johnnie Valentino: guitar, mandolin; Mick Rossi: Hammond B3 organ, harmonium, percussion; Mark Ferber: drums, percussion; Bob Sheppard: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Randy Jones: tuba.

Title: Stingy Brim | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: OmniTone


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