DAVID EARLE JOHNSON

Fusion • United States
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Percussionist David Earle Johnson performed on albums by a number of jazz artists in the seventies before releasing a few of his own albums in the late seventies and early eighties. He appeared on numerous albums: Billy Cobham's Total Eclipse and Clive Stevens' Voyage to Uranus (1974); Jan Hammer's First Seven Days (1975); Lenny White's Big City and Miroslav Vitouš' Majesty Music (1977); Jaroslav Jakubovic's Checkin' In, Mark Moogy Klingman's Moogy II, the Players Association's Born to Dance, and Josh White Jr.'s self-titled album (1978); and others. Johnson's solo debut came in 1978 with Time Is Free, recorded for Vanguard. His relationship with that label proved short-lived, however, and he began recording albums for other labels in subsequent years before his recording career simmered following his 1983 album, The Midweek Blues. Jan Hammer produced and performed on most of these releases along with John Abercrombie, Jeremy Steig, Col.Bruce Hampton, Allen Sloan, Dan read more...
Thanks to snobb for the addition and Slartibartfast for the updates

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DAVID EARLE JOHNSON Time Is Free album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Time Is Free
Fusion 1977
DAVID EARLE JOHNSON Hip Address album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Hip Address
Fusion 1980
DAVID EARLE JOHNSON Route Two album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Route Two
Fusion 1981

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DAVID EARLE JOHNSON Reviews

DAVID EARLE JOHNSON Time Is Free

Album · 1977 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Slartibartfast
David Earle Johnson is perhaps better known for who he's played with than for his solo material. This marks his first solo effort. Really not a true solo as this is more of a Johnson/Jan Hammer duet album, but Johnson gets the lead credit or only credit for most of the songs. It is a percussion driven album though with DEJ providing vocals for three tracks and JH doing the keyboard and drum kit work. Of course they have to mix it up a little - Jan plays Log on one track and David plays Moog Drum on a couple of tracks.

All of you familiar with the first incarnation of Mahavishnu Orchestra know Jan Hammer. Unfortunately, too few are acquainted with Jan's post MO albums. The first one where David and Jan worked together was on Jan's solo album The First Seven Days. I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it seem Mr. Johnson was also on an album called Voyage to Uranus the year before that one. Huh huh huh huh, huh huh, huh huh.

Time is Free was released the same year as the unfortunate Hammer album Black Sheep. Then, after this one came another fairly dreadful Hammer album and then another really good Johnson/Hammer duo album, Hip Address. Unfortunately, Mr. Johnson died in 1998, R.I.P. The guy was an excellent percussionist. Not too shabby with lyrics and vocals, either.

First up is Grandma's House. "Let's go to Grandma's house, there we can sing loud, all of the best songs." Well, not at any of my grandmother's houses, but what the heck. This one has Jan doing his trademark guitar imitation synthesizer thing. David Earle does vocals and percussion. The song shifts gears in the middle and start to get a little Mahavishnuesqe. Jan goes back to a keyboard sounding like a keyboard. David Earle does some spacey vocalizations through an Echoplex. Song then wraps up with a repeat of the opening lyrics.

Lofts is nice jazzy fusiony piece with Jan contributing drums in addition to the keyboards as he does on many of the tracks here and he did on his duo album with Jerry Goodman.

Time Is Free. "Boom boom bang bang, look out here it comes again. Can't stop the way it flows, it never knows why it goes." A fun little ditty. David Earle would go on to appear in Col. Bruce Hampton/The Late Bronze Age's Outside Looking Out, which also has Paul McCandless.

Ramtide starts with a massive sounding percussion avalanche by DE. Jan kicks in with what may be an arpeggiated synth line and also drums. Nice mostly percussion jam.

Ten Little Times is another Hammer imitating guitar bit. Johnson does a thing called a Moog Drum solo that's really cool. It may likely be heard no where else but here. More MO flavored music here.

Juice Harp. A play in words on Jew's Harp. (Probably not a lot of people familiar with that silly little instrument, akaa jaw harp or mouth harp. Supposed to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world) I'm guessing the song was named after Jan's synthesizer impression of the instrument.

Sea, Sand and Sun. Opens with DEJ on treble kalimba solo. The a nice duo of Jan on piano and DEJ on various percussion.

Safes. Lots of cool synthesizer licks and percussion on this one. A very complex composition.

Skin, Log, Sand Street Suite. Skins must be the furious opening conga solo, the log must be the percussion duo which follows. Sand Street? Well, there's a lot of them in the U.S. Maybe referring to the one in New Orleans? Another fine song demonstrating that a song can be built with just percussion, although Jan does put in a little synthesizer. Jan's musical contribution is Hammer at his best, not like the overly commercial material he was starting to do around this time.

DAVID EARLE JOHNSON Hip Address

Album · 1980 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Slartibartfast
I was unaware of this album's existence until 2002. Apparently, with the exception of whoever added this one to the discography, no one else on this site is aware of it to this day. Kudos to One Way Records for releasing some good progressive music that might have gone down the memory hole. New copies of Hip Address are available dirt cheap on the Internet, but that's no reflection on the music. Fans of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra and the more progressive side of Jan Hammer should enjoy this one. Nice to see Jan alternating progressive stuff while veering off into more pop territory at the time.

David Earle Johnson actually headlines this album, with Jan getting second billing. Still he's half of the musicians here. The songs Night and Bamboo Forest are reprised from Oh Yeah?

This album would have made a great double with 1978's Time Is Free. I'm pretty sure that with the two years that had passed, Jan was able to avail himself of some of the latest synthesizer technology and I like what I hear on this album a little better. There's certainly some drifting into the sound he had for the Miami Vice soundtrack. I wonder sometimes if that soundtrack is why Jan doesn't seem to get much respect around here. This album is a creature of the studio, but it's well done. Hard to identify all percussion David Earle is using sometimes, but the CD gives them credit.

Here's my track by track outline for now -

Rebel Trot opens with David on congas. Jan kicks in keyboards soon. Then David Earle vocal. Nice opening Jam.

Green & Black. More treble kalimba from Johnson. Piano from Jan. Nice mellow piece. Reminiscent of original MO's mellow stuff.

Punk Luck. Another piece with DEJ's vocals.

Siete Parati. Very festive instrumental piece.

Hip Address (Vocal). Kind of a spooky song in that it was written back in 1980 or so and the lyrics seem applicable to the recent hurricane Katrina disaster.

Night. Hard to say if the original on Goodman and Hammer's Like Children is better or this version. It's a shame Hammer Goodman and Johnson won't be able to do this one all together.

Bamboo Forest. Originally from Oh Yeah? Bamboo gets a vocal this time. Got to visit Maui's bamboo forest on my honeymoon in 2002. Might not be the same bamboo forests. Still a cool song.

Hip Address (Instrumental). Percussion extravaganza, say no more.

For those that are interested, you can get a free new instrumental M

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