Eddie Johnson - Love You Madly (Music CD)

Release Date: 02 September 2010
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Johnson, who was 78 at the time of this recording, is the most unsung Chicago-based tenor saxophonist of them all. He never wanted to lead a band, but that doesn't mean that he was reticent to play. The cool steam that emanates from his horn, with definite references a la Ben Webster, joined by the vaunted piano pyrotechnics of the incomparable John Young, creates a superlative overall sound. Bassist Eddie DeHaas and drummer George Hughes more than keep up their end of the bargain. The result is an optimal setting to showcase Johnson's sleek, slightly brawny, tuneful tenor with a tincture of tart sweetness, that retains a timeless quality without being rote, sounding nostalgic or crutching on cliches. Johnson is truly his own man, and he sounds great.
There are four references (one obscure) to Duke Ellington, not the least of which is the rich, joyously wonderful kicker and title track. (Johnson recorded with Ellington, but is storied for having turned Ellington for a better paying gig with Louis Jordan.) Johnson additionally pays Ellington back with a sensitive, sweaty "Wanderlust" and the kickin', wailin' "You Dirty Dog," stamped with Ellington's indefatigable swing. The zinger is Cat Anderson's "Trombonio-Bustoso-Issimo": it swings hard and Johnson digs in. As engaging as his personal sound can be, his tunes aside from "Ellingtonia" are well-chosen. Ray Brown's "Gravy Waltz" is becoming a fave of jazz lovers, nay a "new" standard. "My Buddy," "This Love of Mine" (Young quoting "Hi-Fly") and "Who Can I Turn To?" are calm, relaxed ballads. Neal Hefti's "Whirly Bird" (sic as "Whirley Bird") is whipped into a boppish frenzy -- Young's a wizard when wigging out with witty chords and bluesy comping. His lightning like single lines need the analysis of a climatologist -- they're frequently that astounding. He's the perfect kindred spirit for Johnson's notions.
It's known that Johnson's mad love of jazz is related to the people he's played with -- after all, this is only his third up-front recording -- but it is clearly his personal best to date, and he puts many of the younger tenor cats to shame. It bears repeating: Young's consistent brilliance has placed a special sheen on an oft-forgotten tenor giant's magnum opus. ~ Michael G. Nastos
Release Date: 02 September 2010

1. I Love You Madly
2. Gravy Waltz
3. Eyes Of Love
4. My Buddy
5. Trobonio Bustoso Issimo
6. Wanderlust
7. This Love Of Mine
8. Whirley Bird
9. Who Can I Turn To
10. You Dirty Dog

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Catalogue No: DE515