June 9, 1996 |
When J.J. Johnson stands up to play, people listen. His warm, furry tone and crisp improvisations are among the most identifiable sounds in all of jazz. An admired and influential jazz player for nearly five decades, he was one of the first to master the tricky rhythms and complex harmonies of bebop in the mid-'40s. And, amazingly, he's done it all on an instrument that seems in recent years to have been relegated to the nether reaches of jazz: the trombone.
March 1, 1996 |
The lineup for the 18th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on June 15 and 16 has some new faces, old faces, a few surprises and one unanswered question. The program, announced today, includes such major jazz names as trombonist J.J. Johnson, saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Joe Lovano, bassist Stanley Clarke, singers Tony Bennett, Dianne Reeves and Gladys Knight and contemporary groups Fourplay and the Yellowjackets.
November 8, 1992 |
J. J. JOHNSON "Vivian" Concord Jazz * * * * J. J. Johnson's supremacy remains unsurpassed. While other innovative artists have come and gone, Johnson--the first trombonist to play be-bop----still heads the pack. The values that emerged during the be-bop era of the 1940s remain in full force here, as the leader focuses mainly on a well-chosen set of ballads. Johnson's sound, phrasing and concept are well displayed as he assesses the works of Gershwin, Berlin and Porter.
May 5, 1991 |
In this live set recorded at the famed Village Vanguard in New York City, the master of be-bop slide trombone proves he remains worthy of that mantle on his first release as a bandleader in almost a decade. As he has since his debut in the late '40s, Johnson here displays his substantial musicality, including his big yet bright sound, unflappable rhythmic sense and gift for melody.
September 23, 1988 |
Everything worth doing right takes time, even for someone as gifted as J. J. Johnson. The undisputed father of modern jazz trombone, Johnson about a year ago decided to put down his pen and pick up his horn full-time--he'd spent about 20 years writing for, and playing in, the studios--and it's taken him a year to get back on track. The set Johnson delivered Tuesday at Catalina Bar & Grill was the kind one would expect to hear from a reigning jazz master.
November 15, 1987 |
Whatever happened to the jazz trombone? This may seem like a loaded question, unfair to those who still practice their profession on this horn; yet it is undeniable that trombonists are no longer in the forefront of the scene. For every youngster who decided to take up this difficult instrument, there must be a hundred who pick up a guitar, learn a few chords and rush headlong into a career. Among the Swing Era and post-swing giants, long gone are Tommy Dorsey and Jack Teagarden.