J.J. Johnson


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A collection of mostly original material, J.J. Johnson's Heroes features an attractive blend of instruments and players. The two versions of "Carolyn" which bookend the album are positively gorgeous, while "Thelonious the Onliest" captures the quirky spirit of its namesake. The "Wayne" on "In Walked Wayne" is Wayne Shorter, who pushes his tenor sax over, under, around and through the tune. Miles' "Blue in Green" receives a classy interpretation, and Coltrane's "Blue Train" proves a fine vehicle for Johnson and friends. For the most part, this is a beautiful album on which the leader's trombone mixes nicely with Don Faulk's tenor and soprano saxophones, while Rufus Reid and Victor Lewis keep the rhythm low-key. Renee Rosnes' solo piano stroll through Johnson's "Vista" is especially nice. In fact, the one word which keeps coming to mind while listening to Heroes is "classy," and that it is.

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