Exposé Online banner

Jeff Johnson Trio — Free
(Origin 82370, 1999, CD)

Jeff Johnson — The Art of Falling
(Origin 82386, 2001, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01

Free Cover artThe Art of Falling Cover art

Bassist Jeff Johnson is one of the regulars in the Origin Records stable, and these two releases see him as leader, first of a trio with drummer Billy Mintz and reedman Hans Teuber, then with a quartet, adding pianist Randy Porter. Most of the selections on both are Johnson originals, with a few covers (Wayne Shorter, Henry Mancini, even Glenn Miller) thrown in. Johnson seems to favor a relatively free setting, using the composed tunes as springboards for group interplay. His bass playing is fluid and not overly flashy; he can lay down a great walk behind a solo and likes to accent lines with little glissandos. In the trio he often plays two or three notes at a time to fill in for the absent piano. Mintz is what I think of as a fairly “pure” jazz drummer, with no discernable influences from rock, Latin, or other music. He swings very subtly, leaving lots of space between the notes, and never strikes anything with much force. Teuber is a melodic player, very expressive, favoring liquid lines over frenetic flurries of notes, and never stepping outside the standards of his instruments (alto and soprano sax, from the sounds of it, though hearing can be deceiving) to squawk or screech. For these low-key sessions, his subdued voice is perfect. Randy Porter’s piano work seems tailor-made for this setting, though I’m not familiar with him on other recordings to compare. He allows the others plenty of room to explore the tunes in their own ways, and puts in his own quick flourishes from time to time. Tasty rather than outgoing. One thing I find quite intriguing is how these players (especially the trio) manage to maintain forward momentum on the tunes even when none of them performs the typical timekeeping functions.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 24, 1999 releases, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Hans Teuber, Jeff Johnson

Latest news

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

(Tom Newman) - Variations on a Rhythm of Mike Oldfield - David Bedford – This is a four track EP, and is basically a Tom Newman album. It's confusing, I know. This is some of that stuff you know Oldfield and Co. did for laughs (when perhaps beer and worse entered the...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues