Johnny Bothwell: From the Land of Sky Blue Water


From the Land of Sky Blue Water


Johnny Bothwell (alto sax)


Street of Dreams - 1946 (Hep CD 54)

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Johnny Bothwell (alto sax),

and an unknown 15-piece band (perhaps a Ray Bloch studio orchestra)


Arranged by Paul Villepigue. Composed by Nellie Eberhart and Charles Wakefield Cadman


Recorded: New York, ca. May, 1946


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Bothwell was called "the white Johnny Hodges" for his beautiful sound and florid technique. Formerly a member of Woody Herman's and Sonny Dunham's Orchestras, his initial recognition came as soloist with Boyd Raeburn's 1944 orchestra. Raeburn even let Bothwell use arrangements from his book for the altoist's sessions with Signature Records in early 1945. Bothwell left Raeburn, joined Gene Krupa for a short time, and then formed a good small group before putting together a big band in 1946. He scraped by for two years, formed other small groups and then disappeared by the early fifties, turning up in Florida shortly before his death. Most of Bothwell's recordings during this period are attempts to get hits with poor material, but there is one constant that makes most of them worth hearing: the talent of his chief arranger Paul Villepigue. "From the Land of Sky Blue Water" is perhaps Villepigue's finest moment with Bothwell. Because of its form of fast-slow-fast, this is clearly not a record for dancing. But Villepigue's use of a flute in the setting and his lovely harmonies clearly enhance the original song; while his transition from slow to fast using four 3/4 bars and one 2/4 bar to get back to 4/4 is one of the most graceful uses of time change in jazz ensemble writing -- and rarely done during that era. Villepigue would later write for Claude Thornhill, Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton.

Reviewer: Jeff Sultanof

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