Randy Johnston

Riding the Curve

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Further asserting himself as a premier jazz guitarist, Johnston presents his fifth recording as leader, the second with organist Joey DeFrancesco (the first was In-A-Chord). Idris Muhammad plays the drums with usual aplomb, and tenor saxophone legend Johnny Griffin shows up on two cuts. Johnston does a little bit of everything on this one. There's the midtempo swing of "The Song Is Ended," the funky R&B of "High-Heel Sneakers" (which recalls Jimmy Smith), and the waltzing "Wives and Lovers." On a dangerously slow version of "I Get Along Without You Very Well," Johnston adds some quicker lines. "All Through the Night," featuring Griffin on tenor, is smooth and swift. There are two Johnston originals -- "The Park" is an easy, no-frills bossa, while "For Thomas" (dedicated to Johnston's old college roommate, the late Thomas Chapin) is a swinging remembrance of more innocent days. The longest cut is another piece reminiscent of Jimmy Smith, Griffin's ten-minute-plus "You've Never Been There!" It features a blues groove with tenor sax/guitar unison, an element that Johnston is well-known for. Johnston is an accessible musician whose lyricism is ever-present but rarely flashy. Following in the tradition of legends like Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, and Pat Martino, he proves himself immensely capable on this fine CD, as he continues to grow and mature into one of the best in the business.

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