Eric Johnson

Makin' Whoopie

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Eric Johnson is from one of the most fertile breeding places for jazz artists, Pittsburgh, PA. He had a penchant for gigging with jazz organists including Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes. The result is that he has the blues, soul, funk feel to his playing à la Grant Green and early George Benson. Here he teams up with organist David Braham, a regular contributor to Bluejay label releases, for a musical program of Johnson originals and familiar songs. The organ is such a powerful instrument that anyone sharing the recording studio with it has to be careful not to be suffocated by its overwhelming all-enveloping sound. Presumably, Johnson's experience performing with other organists allows him to avoid falling into that trap. He leaves no doubt that his guitar is the dominant instrument at this session, with the organ playing an important, but subsidiary, role. On "Prelude to a Kiss," Johnson's guitar plays the melody while Braham lays down a mellow underpinning for Johnson to ride upon. Their collaboration on "Makin' Whoopee turns out to be an excursion down funk lane recalling Kenny Burrell's meetings with Jack McDuff and Grant Green's with Larry Young. On "If I Had You," Braham takes the organ equivalent of drum rim shots, adding a shudder to the blues-laced wrapping in which Johnson packages this 1928 standard. While all of Johnson's originals have merit, it's the album's kick-off tune, "Blues By Six," which is the most spirited. It features earthy organ and guitar plus some good drum paradiddle by Cecil Brooks III. Nat Simpkins, while just on a few cuts, gets in some licks with his Texas tenor on "Minor Madness." Johnson is a major addition to the distinguished stable of BlueJay jazz artists.

blue highlight denotes track pick