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Monday, December 28, 2020

J Is For Jazz - J. J. Johnson



J Is For Jazz
The J. J. Johnson Quintet
Cover Photo: Dan Wynn
Columbia Records CL 935

From the back cover: J. J. Johnson, considered by many to be the originator and leading exponent of the modern jazz trombone style, has until recently been the co-leader, with the extraordinary Kai Winding, of a quintet featuring tow trombones with rhythm section. Their work together on Columbia, with their quintet (CL 742) and with a trombone octet (CL 892), is one of the highlights of the Columbia Jazz catalog, but is also of a kind which has proven popular with the public at large. The same bids fair to be true with the groups they have just formed independently of one another.

The J. J. Johnson Quintet makes one change in instrumentation, but it is an important one. In Kai's old spot, one find Bobby Jaspar, tenor saxophonist and flutist extraordinary. Bobby, while new to the American scene, is well known in Europe. As Belgium's leading jazzman, Bobby won critics' awards and public acclaim all over the continent for his fine contemporary-style playing. Now a permanent resident of the United State, this is his debut before the American public. His appearance in this album is by special arrangement with the company for which he records exclusively – Pathe-Marconi, subsidiary of Electrical and Mechanical Industries, Ltd.

As these recordings were made on the even of J. J.'s launching of his new Quintet, it was impossible to line up the same rhythm section for each session. The changes of personnel are as follows: for Angel Eyes, Overdrive, and Undecided, Hank Jones played piano and Percy Heath played bass. On Tumble Weeds, Solar, Never Let Me Go, and Cube Steak, Wilbur Little replaced Heath. The remaining tunes were made with Tommy Flanagan in place of Hank Jones. The drummer throughout was Elvin Jones, Hank's brother.

All arrangements in this set are by J. J. himself. As usual, he has chosen repertoire which is anything but overdone, and he has also written three originals.

Naptown U.S.A.
It Might As Well Be Spring
Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Angel Eyes
Never Let Me Go
Chasin' The Bird
Cube Steak

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