J.J. Johnson

Betwixt and Between

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The second of the three K and JJ (or J & K) collaborations for A&M's CTI series takes an idea from the first -- that of Baroque elaborations -- and runs with it. Here, the twin trombonists link each track with a brief interlude -- some by Bach, one by Prokofiev (uncredited) -- for brass quintet and guitar. Indeed, there are experiments all over this quintessentially '60s project -- and purists can't blame it on an outside arranger, for Johnson and Winding do all but one of the charts themselves. A lot of this record has a mild period-rock feeling marked by the edgy guitar of Joe Beck and the wonderfully funky clavinet of, yes, Roger Kellaway (who else would contribute a song entitled "Just a Funky Old Vegetable Bin") -- and on one track, the trombonists hide behind the dusky sounds of Varitone octave-multiplying amplifiers. All of this is unified not by the rather self-conscious interludes but by Creed Taylor's immaculate pop-flavored production, so much so that the golden-toned trombonists are almost, but not quite, bit players on their own album. A fascinating, no doubt controversial, record.