Eric Johnson is held in such high regard as a guitarist, and his releases of new recordings are so infrequent, that a significant part of his discography has come to consist of juvenilia and other archival recordings…
Reissue with the latest 2015 remastering. Comes with liner notes. One of the hippest, hardest albums that trombonist JJ Johnson ever cut for Columbia – a session we'd rank right up there with his amazing JJ Inc record, and like that one a really cooking hardbop record that maybe even rivals the best on Blue Note and Prestige at the time! As with that gem, the strength here is really the group – not just tremendous trombone from JJ, but great work from Nat Adderley on trumpet, Bobby Jaspar on tenor and flute, Cedar Walton on piano, Spanky DeBrest on bass, and Albert Heath on drums – all working with a soaring, soulful energy that's a lot more hardbop heavy than you might expect from JJ Johnson on some of his other projects for the label.
In the early 70's a band named Catalyst was formed in the heart of Philadelphia. The core of the group was Odean Pope, Sherman Ferguson, Eddie Green and Al Johnson (who was replaced by Tyrone Brown after their first album). The band drew from a wide range of musical styles; jazz, funk, R&B, avant garde and fusion all found their way into the creative sonic tapestry of Catalyst. With the given talents of Catalyst they could have and should have been bigger but sadly they found themselves with little promotion or recognition outside the proximity of Philadelphia. Thankfully Catalyst were able to leave behind four extraordinary recordings that will appeal to both jazz heads and those in the hip hop community.
This is a little-known and rather melancholy set, virtually Billy Strayhorn's only recording away from the world of Duke Ellington. The focus is totally on Strayhorn's piano throughout his interpretations of ten of his compositions (including "Lush Life," "Take the 'A' Train," and "Something to Live For"). Three selections have the Paris Blue Notes adding sparse wordless vocals, two other numbers add some quiet playing by the Paris String Quartet, and bassist Michel Goudret is on five of the ten selections (including one apiece with the strings and the voices). "Strange Feeling" and "Chelsea Bridge" are taken as unaccompanied piano solos. Of the ten songs, only "Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'" hints at happiness; otherwise, Strayhorn's melodic and concise playing is quite somber, peaceful in volume but filled with inner tension.
Ian Bostridge brings his characterful lyricism, and singing of beautiful intelligence, to a welcome sixth volume in Graham Johnson’s comprehensive series. "The lovesick texts are somewhat overwrought and highly coloured to modern ears, but Bostridge is totally convincing, particularly in his wonderfully sensitive handling of the Op 96 collection. Johnson, that poet of the piano, underpins everything with just the right level of ardour—and he writes tremendous sleeve notes."
Culled from Johnson's albums for Mango recorded between 1978-1984, this is a distillation of work by the dub poet and the man who has perhaps been England's greatest contributor to reggae. While the great "Reggae Fi Peach" doesn't make it on here, and nor, even more surprisingly, does his excoriating immigrant tale "Inglan Is a Bitch," there are still plenty of gems in the album's 40 minutes, like "Independant Intavenshan" and "Sonny's Lettah (Anti-Sus Poem)," which might still stand as his best-ever track. Working in a sing-speak Jamaican patois, Johnson never pulls his punches, and why should he? He's seen plenty and experienced plenty at the hands of the English. The country might be his home, but that doesn't mean he can't see its myriad faults. The combination of Johnson's words and delivery with Dennis Bovell's production and leadership of the dub band is an almighty one-two punch, always going for the knockout blow, and the very best British reggae has had to offer: political, powerful, and penetrating.