Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Jeff Johnson: Suitcase

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Bassist Jeff Johnson traveled the United States from the 1970s until 1990. He followed the work during his time of transience, and played an array of styles, from R&B to country, from blues to pop, and jazz. Then he put his suitcase down in Seattle and evolved into something of a house bassist for Origin Records, backing pianists Jessica Williams and Hal Galper, saxophonist Mark Taylor, vocalists Carrie Wicks and Jeff Baker, drummer John Bishop, and many more.

For his own recordings, he favors a free jazz approach and the trio—saxophone, bass and drums. His trio, with saxophonist Hans Teuber's smooth, fluid sound in the center, is spacious and cool, a sort of West Coast Zen music. But on Suitcase, Johnson adds a pianist into the fold for the first time since 2001's Art of Falling (Origin Records).

The quartet's chemistry is remarkable. While Johnson has been playing and recording with Teuber for more than twenty years, pianist Steve Moore and drummer Eric Eagle are newcomers who have lent a new dimension to the bassist's sound. Moore, in this setting, is very effectively stingy with the notes he plays, placing them perfectly in this flexible, chamber music-like ensemble; and Eagle is a master of percussive subtlety who has no problem laying on a bit of muscle when the situation calls for it. And it calls for it on Johnson's "Scene West," and "Soweto Man, where the bassist leads the group deep into the groove.

With the exception of the disc's opener, "Shake it Off," an in-the-moment, four-way improvisation, all the tunes are from Johnson's pen, written during his "twenty years of wandering" around the country, following the jobs. "Avion" features Teuber on bass clarinet, contributing a smooth, deep tone to a tune that floats, untethered in a cloud-drift mode. "Kiwi" is a rather jaunty, light-stepping waltz and "Artist" has a brooding, late night mood, with Teuber at his most beautiful.

"Letters for Marcy," written for the special lady in Johnson's life, is a gorgeous, tender love song, with Johnson singing the woman's praises in the most poignant of fashions on his Fender Jazz bass, before Teuber blows in like an intimate whisper. The band closes with "Soweto Man," with Teuber's alto flute layered over a steady dance beat, wrapping up Johnson's finest recording to date.

Track Listing: Shake It Off; Scene West; Avion; Kiwi; Artist; Illuminati; Picasso; Letters for Marcy; Soweto Man."

Personnel: Jeff Johnson: acoustic and Fender bass; Hans Teuber: saxophones, bass clarinet, alto flute; Steve Moore: piano; Eric Eagle: drums.

Title: Suitcase | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Origin Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Scene West

Scene West

Jeff Johnson
Suitcase

Kiwi

Kiwi

Jeff Johnson
Suitcase

Paris

Paris

Jeff Johnson
Tall Stranger

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Suitcase

Suitcase

Origin Records
2012

buy
Apothecary

Apothecary

Origin Records
2009

buy
Tall Stranger

Tall Stranger

Origin Records
2008

buy
Near Earth

Near Earth

Unknown label
2004

buy

Related Articles

Read I Always Knew CD/LP/Track Review
I Always Knew
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 12, 2018
Read It's Alright To Dream featuring JD Allen CD/LP/Track Review
It's Alright To Dream featuring JD Allen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 12, 2018
Read SHIFTED CD/LP/Track Review
SHIFTED
by James Fleming
Published: December 12, 2018
Read Volume One CD/LP/Track Review
Volume One
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 12, 2018
Read Songs in the Key of Wonder CD/LP/Track Review
Songs in the Key of Wonder
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2018
Read Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
Vilddjur
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read "Outside the Soiree" CD/LP/Track Review Outside the Soiree
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 12, 2018
Read "Bonafide" CD/LP/Track Review Bonafide
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 21, 2018
Read "The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966!" CD/LP/Track Review The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966!
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "Hello Human" CD/LP/Track Review Hello Human
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 19, 2018
Read "Live In Healdsburg" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Healdsburg
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 19, 2018
Read "Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Manhattan
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 1, 2018