JJ Johnson

jjjohnson 2Arguably the greatest bebop/hard bop trombonist post 1945, J.J. Johnson’s work defied both musicians’ and the public’s perception that the slide trombone could not keep up in modern jazz (bebop). Gifted as a composer and arranger Johnson had a long career as both a performer, bandleader, and composer.

JJ Johnson - Episode 1

On this show I play recordings of 4 important trombonists that influenced him as well as some of Johnson’s earliest recordings.
CompositionArtistYear
A Night in TunisiaJJ and Kai1956
I'm Getting SentimentalTommy Dorsey Orchestracirca 1936
LoverJack Teagarden (air check) w/Louis Armstrongcirca 1950
My Gal SalFred Beckett---Harlan Leonard Rockets1940
Fan ItBill Harris/Woody Herman1946
Lester LeapsNorman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic1944
I Mean YouColeman Hawkins Esquire All-Stars1946

JJ Johnson - Episode 2

By the late 1940’s J.J. was the preeminent trombonist in modern jazz. He recorded numerous times with his own group and a variety of others, including Charlie Parker and Miles Davis’s Nonet (Royal Roost Band). He also began to compose original material for his recordings.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
How Deep is the OceanCharlie ParkerDial Sessions1947
Jay JayJ.J. JohnsonJazz Quintets1948
BoneologyJ.J. JohnsonJazz Quintets1948
DeceptionMiles DavisBirth of the Cool1949
TurnpikeJ.J. JohnsonThe Eminent JJ Johnson v11953
Walkin'Miles Davis All StarsWalkin'1954

JJ Johnson - Episode 3

The recordings from this podcast comprise some of his some of his finest work from 1954 through 1957. In 1954 Johnson formed a group with trombonist Kai Winding: the "Jay and Kai Quintet." The trombone styles and personalities of the two musicians, although very different, blended so well that the group was a huge success both musically and commercially.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
It's All Right With MeJ.J. Johnson/Kai WindingJay and Kai1954
LamentJ.J. Johnson/Kai WindingJay and Kai1954
Coffee PotJ.J. JohnsonThe Eminent JJ Johnson V. 21955
Old Devil MoonJ.J. JohnsonThe Eminent JJ Johnson V. 21955
Night In TunisiaJ.J. Johnson/Kai WindingJay & Kai+6/J.J. in Person1956
Billie’s BounceStan Getz & J.J.At The Opera House [Live]1957
Wail MarchSonny RollinsVol. 21957

JJ Johnson - Episode 4

J.J. Johnson was also an important composer who wrote a number of works in the late 1950s that fall into a category referred to as 3rd Stream. You can hear the influence of many 20th century orchestral composers blended with jazz in these recordings. They are often overlooked works, but are rich in color, harmony, texture, and improvisation. In the late 1960s and early 1970s J.J. tried to break into television and motion picture sound scoring and enjoyed moderate success.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Poem for BrassJ.J. JohnsonThe Birth of the 3rd Stream1956
El Camino RealJ.J. JohnsonThe Brass Orchestra1996
AquariusJ.J. JohnsonJ.J. Inc.1960