RUSS JOHNSON

Avant-Garde Jazz / Post Bop / 21st Century Modern • United States
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The jazz world is filled with great musicians like trumpeter Russ Johnson—guys who play all of the time and appear on loads of records but have little name recognition outside of the cognoscenti. He's only made a handful of records under his own leadership, but he's turned up as a sideman on countless albums, including dates led by Jenny Scheinman, Michael Bates, Noah Preminger, Diedre Rodman, Lee Konitz, Jason Rigby, and Steve Swallow, among others. He should be better known, because the dude can play some serious trumpet.

About a year and a half ago Johnson moved to Milwaukee from New York, where he'd been based since the 90s, although he continues to maintain a regular presence there even after relocating. The Racine native landed a gig as a jazz instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, in Kenosha, which has meant that he's started turning up for gigs here in Chicago.
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Save BigSave Big
Omnitone Records 2005
$7.29
$3.38 (used)
Still Out to LunchStill Out to Lunch
Yellowbird 2014
$6.92
$11.20 (used)
Meeting PointMeeting Point
CD Baby 2014
$12.87
$7.69 (used)
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RUSS JOHNSON Discography

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RUSS JOHNSON Save Big album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Save Big
Post Bop 2005
RUSS JOHNSON Meeting Point album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Meeting Point
Avant-Garde Jazz 2014
RUSS JOHNSON Still Out to Lunch! album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Still Out to Lunch!
Avant-Garde Jazz 2014
RUSS JOHNSON Headlands album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Headlands
21st Century Modern 2018

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RUSS JOHNSON Still Out to Lunch!

Album · 2014 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
snobb
New Yorkers' Mostly Other People Do The Killing release of "Blue" where they just play note-by-note Miles Davis "Kind Of Blue" initiated stormy discussions in musical press last year. Musically hardly enticing this album's concept revitalized almost century-old disputes what is jazz and where all that go.

At the same time Chicago-based trumpeter Russ Johnson's version of Dolphy's "Out To Lunch",released same year, passed almost unnoticed. Less attractive as object for philosophical discussions, Johnson's "Still Out To Lunch!" contains more pretties for listener though. Being more customary one musician take on other artist's music,it doesn't copy the original as in case of above mentioned "Blue" and doesn't try to rework it drastically (after Otomo Yoshihide's 2005 "Out To Lunch" with Mats Gustafsson,brass section,computers and noises this task is hardy beatable).

Russ' formed very strong band play all Dolphy original album's compositions (in different order though)adding two previously unrecorded Dolphy rarities and one band drummer George Schuller father Gunter Schuller's (composer,who worked with Dolphy in his time) composition "Little Blue Devil". Johnson five-piece band don't contain vibraphonist (Bobby Hutcherson on original Dolphy release is changed by pianist Myra Melford), differently from Dolphy's alto,bass clarinet and flute Roy Nathanson plays alto and soprano sax. Johnson band sound more modern, more dynamic and if Dolphy's original is known by its excellent balance between free-bop and almost classical well organized relaxed sound, Johnson version is quite nervous,tight and riven.

Since there is hardly any sense just to copy already existing recorded music, "Still Out To Lunch" works well enough offering different look which probably could be tagged as "new century touch" on Dolphy's classics.With no doubt everyone takes a big risk working with such well-known material but Johnson and band demonstrate huge respect to original here. It's not a competition with Dolphy and not an ambition to make some things better, but more modernized presentation of genius work. Comprehensible like that this album deserves more attention - on its own way it popularizes one of the greatest jazz music ever recorded.

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