Stitt JJ Johnson H. McGhee - Now's the Time
Considered by many to be the finest jazz trombonist of all time,
J.J. Johnson somehow transferred the innovations of Charlie Parker
and Dizzy Gillespie to his more awkward instrument, playing with
such speed and
deceptive ease that at one time some listeners assumed he was
playing valve (rather than slide) trombone! Johnson toured with
the territory bands of Clarence Love and Snookum Russell during
1941-42 and then spent 1942-45 with Benny Carter's big band.
He made his recording debut with
Carter (taking a solo on "Love for Sale" in 1943) and played at
the first JATP concert (1944). Johnson also had led plenty of
solo space during his stay with Count Basie's Orchestra (1945-46).
During 1946-50, he played with all of the top bop musicians including
Charlie Parker (with whom he recorded in 1947), the Dizzy Gillespie
big band, Illinois Jacquet (1947-49) and the Miles Davis Birth
of the Cool Nonet.
His own recordings from the era
included such sidemen as Bud Powell and a young Sonny Rollins.
also recorded with the Metronome All-Stars, played with Oscar
Pettiford (1951) and Miles Davis (1952) but then was outside of
music, working as a blueprint inspector for two years (1952-54).
His fortunes changed when in
August 1954 he formed a two -trombone quintet with Kai Winding
that became known as Jay and Kai and was quite popular during
its two years. After J.J. and Kai went their separate ways (they
would later have a few reunions), Johnson led a quintet that often
included Bobby Jaspar.
He began to compose ambitious
works starting with 1956's "Poem for Brass" and including "El
Camino Real" and a feature for Dizzy Gillespie, "Perceptions";
his "Lament" became a standard. Johnson worked with Miles Davis,
during part of 1961-62, led some small groups of his own, and
by the late '60s was kept busy writing television and film scores.
J.J. Johnson was so famous in the jazz world that he kept on winning
DOWN BEAT polls in the 1970s even though he was not playing at
all! However, starting with a Japanese tour in 1977, J.J. gradually
returned to a busy performance schedule, leading a quintet in
the 1980s that often featured Ralph Moore.
Musical World of J.J. Johnson
- Scarecrow Press recently released a new paperback version
of their 1999 publication titled, The Musical World of J.J.
Johnson. The paperback has a new appendix on Johnson's untimely
death and an index to song titles....
J.J. Johnson at Trombone
Page of the World - click HERE
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