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

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tangerine Dream - Bootmoon Live Series – 1977 was the year that Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Peter Baumann conquered North America and Canada with a massive twenty-plus city tour (and on select dates performing with Laserium). The April...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues