J.J. Johnson

Mad Bebop

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The great trombonist J.J. Johnson is heard in several different settings on this out-of-print but valuable two-LP set. Johnson is featured on three dates from 1946-49 that are greatly expanded by the inclusion of alternate takes; among the sidemen are pianists Bud Powell, John Lewis and Hank Jones, altoist Cecil Payne, baritonist Leo Parker, tenorman Sonny Rollins and drummer Max Roach. In contrast to those early bop sides are eight performances co-led by J.J. Johnson and fellow trombonist Kai Winding in 1954 in a pair of quintets, also including either guitarist Billy Bauer or pianist Wally Cirillo, bassist Charles Mingus (whose presence is definitely felt) and drummer Kenny Clarke. Those selections, highlighted by "What Is This Thing Called Love," "Blues for Trombones" and "Lament," would lead to the popular Jay and Kai group. Overall, excellent music that deserves to be reissued in complete fashion on CD.