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J.J. Johnson

Considered by many to be the finest jazz trombonist of all time, J.J. Johnson somehow transferred the innovations of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to his more awkward instrument, playing with such speed and deceptive ease that at one time some listeners assumed he was playing valve (rather than slide) trombone! Johnson toured with the territory bands of Clarence Love and Snookum Russell during 1941-42 and then spent 1942-45 with Benny Carter's big band. He made his recording debut with Carter (taking a solo on "Love for Sale" in 1943) and played at the first JATP concert (1944). Johnson also had led plenty of solo space during his stay with Count Basie's Orchestra (1945-46)

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Adam Shulman Septet: West Meets East

Read "West Meets East" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The “west" here is represented by San Francisco-based pianist and group leader Adam Shulman, the “east" by the other half-dozen members of Shulman's impressive septet. Even though the reasons that led to the alliance are ambiguous, what matters is the payoff, and that is more than admirable from any vantage point. As if ...

NEWS: VIDEO / DVD

J.J. Johnson and Bobby Jaspar

J.J. Johnson and Bobby Jaspar

Tropical storm Isaias blew into New York around 11 a.m. yesterday, whipped things around and split at about 3 p.m. When it did, the sun came out and the 35-mph gusts began, cooling things off a bit. For some reason, I craved J.J. Johnson and his distinct, muffled trombone sound. The albums I turned to were ...

Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums

Read "Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums" reviewed by Chris May

For anyone with a passion for Blue Note, it is hard to conceive of an album that has been “overlooked," let alone twenty of them. For connoisseurs of the most influential label in jazz history, the passion can be all consuming: if a dedicated collector does not have all the albums (yet), he or she will ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Jimmy Heath: Love Letter

Read "Love Letter" reviewed by Chris May

Love Letter is the final album to be made by saxophonist Jimmy Heath, who passed in January 2020 aged 93. It was completeted just a month earlier. The title is well chosen: the album is a love letter to jazz, a love letter to ballads, and a love letter to Heath's surviving family members, friends and ...

Sex & Drugs & Jazz & Jive: Top Ten Stash Records Albums

Read "Sex & Drugs & Jazz & Jive: Top Ten Stash Records Albums" reviewed by Chris May

With all the transgressive flair you would expect of bohemian New York City in the 1970s and 1980s, Bernie Brightman's Stash Records made its name with a hugely entertaining series of sex and drugs-themed compilations of swing-era recordings. The first was Reefer Songs in 1976. But Brightman's legacy extends much further. There was a finite amount ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Joe Fielder's Big Sackbut: Live In Graz

Read "Live In Graz" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Trombonist Joe Fielder offers up Joe Fielder's Big Sackbut--Live In Graz, the group's second recording, a follow-up to the 2012 eponymous Yellow Sound Label debut and 2013's Sackbut Stomp (Multiphonics Music). The line-up is three trombones (Ryan Keberle, Luis Bonilla and Fielder) and a tuba (Jon Sass), so it isn't hard to imagine what the sound ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Geoff Mason: GMQ

Read "GMQ" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Geoff Mason, one of the UK's leading jazz trombonists, mans the front line by himself on the slyly named GMQ, an eloquent quartet session from which Mason's longtime colleague, the outstanding saxophonist Simon Spillett, is regrettably missing. As nothing can be done to set that right, best to focus on the music at hand, which binds ...

Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten

Read "Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten" reviewed by Chris May

From 1953, when it was set up, to 1964, when it was acquired by ABC, Riverside Records rivalled Blue Note and Prestige as one of the leading independent jazz labels based in New York City. The founders of all three labels were jazz fans who operated on slim margins and became producers partly because they enjoyed ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Sencalar/Glassman Quintet: Realization

Read "Realization" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Altin Sencalar and Chris Glassman were classmates in graduate school at Michigan State University (MSU) where they were both trombonist MIchael Dease's proteges. When they decided to release their debut, the exciting Realization, their mentor produced the record, contributed a tune and made a guest appearance on the opening track. For this bop-based session ...


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