Steve Johns

No Saints No Sinners

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A solid, accessible date co-led by saxophonist Peter Brainin and drummer Steve Johns. Pianist George Cables and bassist Jay Anderson join Johns in the rhythm section, but it's the three-horn front line (Brainin, Conrad Herwig on trombone, and Eddie Henderson or Chris Rogers on trumpet/fluegelhorn) who gives the session its luster. (Rich Shemaria and Chuck Clark provide the beautiful arrangements.) Brainin wrote four of the tunes, Johns three; Goldie Tyler Johns, the drummer's mother, contributed a delightfully saucy change of pace called "Cause You're My Lover." Many of the tracks recall the cool, lyrical, Latin-tinged sophistication of Tom Harrell. The program's almost too mild; you find yourself waiting for a return to the pumping swing and tight, spitting horn harmonies of the opener, Johns' "Home Grown Alone." That said, there are some tasty surprises -- like the sudden transition from upbeat swing to minor-key waltz in Brainin's "Efflorescence" or the flute/bass unison statement that begins Johns' "Hazelhurst."

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