JJ Johnson

I have a soft spot for the trombone-playing of JJ Johnson. That might sound strange, since Jay Jay is definitely more “good taste”, and less wild, exciting and pushing boundaries than my favorites for the period say 1954 – 1959: Coltrane, Clifford Brown, Rollins. (Not to mention freejazz and all the other sorts of music that some people dissmiss as difficult…). Last week I was very happy to find the Complete Columbia Small Group Sessions of JJ Johnson. These are basically his recordings with either a quintet with Bobby Jaspar and Elvin Jones, and a quartet with Flanagan, Chambers and Roach. I knew some tracks and had searched in vain for it before (the library didn’t have these). It’s a joy to hear such precise playing and arrangements that are equally precise, without becoming precious (precieux). They are the definition of ‘classic’. It asks for precise listening as well — or actually, you will realize at some point that you are listening carefully (instead of just nodding your head to the rhythm). This is the kind of playing that makes me envious. I wish I could play like this — then I’d be able to play everything…

en,music | May 23, 2006 | 13:10 | Comments Off on JJ Johnson |


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