LaMont Johnson

242 E. 3rd

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Pianist Lamont Johnson is best-known for his work with altoist Jackie McLean in the mid- to late 1960s, but he has continued to grow and evolve ever since while retaining his advanced hard bop-based style. During the second half of the 1990s, he recorded several worthy discs for his Masterscores label. For this project, Johnson decided to pay tribute to the late-1960s and '70s New York jazz club Slugs. Although all ten of the selections are his recent originals (and were therefore not actually played at Slugs), the style is generally very much in the hard bop/modal vein of the period; only the funky "Fang Dancer" is a bit of an exception. The leader is joined by seven impressive players (tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, flutist Tim Ries, trumpeter Don Sickler, Howard Johnson on tuba, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Marcus Baylor and Danny Sadownick on congas). Although only Sickler, Howard Johnson and Plaxico are well-known in jazz circles, all of the musicians are quite strong. The ten originals have many highlights, including the shouting and urgent melody of "242 E. 3rd," Greene's tenor on the ballad "Charismatica," the Spanish feel to "Tio Hespano," and the moving and hyper "Anachronism." Lamont Johnson's piano is heard throughout in prime form, making one very glad that he has begun appearing on records more regularly again. Well worth checking out.

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