Jeff Johnson

Near Earth

origin 82429

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Jeff Campbell, Double Bassist

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Double bassist Jeff Johnson and his associates here present music that is both "in" and "for" the moment.This is not casual music, but it is music that demands to be heard. These three improvisers work as a unified team to create a sound that will both surprise and satisfy the discerning listener. A quote from Johnson in the liner notes gives some indication of the trio's direction:'What is the signal that makes a flock of birds or school of fish change directions and speed instantaneously? Learned telepathy, like minded, or informed instincts? I don't know, but this is how we play and this is the domain we explore'.

Of the ten tracks on the disc two are standards, three are Johnson originals, and the remainder were instantaneously 'composed' by the trio. It is often the case that freely improvised music is more rewarding for the player than the listener. Such is not the case here, where each improvisational excursion contains a substantial amount of material that expresses a clear musical intent. The trio approach the two standards on the disc ("Dream" and "The Good Life") and Johnson's original compositions with similar vision.

In every context Johnson's bass playing provides compelling support and a strong melodic line. He has at his disposal an arsenal of modern double bass techniques that he never uses for gratuitous effect. Instead, he weaves his linear conversational ideas into the fabric of the music and takes advantage of the absence of any chordal instrument in the trio to explore a myriad of textures- from double-and triple-stops, strummed chords, ostinato grooves, and harmonics.

This may not be casual music, but it is accessible and musically satisfying. Recommended.






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