J.J. Johnson: Carolyn (In the Morning)
Carolyn (In the Morning)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Heroes (Verve 314 528 864-2)
Rufus Reid (bass), Victor Lewis (drums).
Composed by J.J. Johnson.
Recorded: New York, October 1-4, 1996
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
In this bookend piece that both starts the album Heroes and ends it with a piece appropriately titled "Carolyn (In the Evening)," the trombonist who many feel was the finest to ever play the instrument showcases his compositional and leadership skills. While Johnson's playing is more featured in pieces like "Ten-85" or the equally swinging "In Walked Wayne," it is this song that embodies his soul as a songwriter. Dedicated to his second wife, it's a delicate and poignant jazz waltz that embodies the subtle brilliance of this master musician. While J.J. plays a subdued role on this track, the song showcases the fine talents of Dan Faulk on tenor sax and Renee Rosnes on piano, all behind the brilliantly underplayed work of drummer Victor Lewis and the effective Rufus Reid on bass. This is at once an old masteróJohnson was 72 when he recorded thisótaking younger, promising artists under his wing in the fine tradition of Art Blakey and Miles Davis, and letting them express their artistry through a vehicle that allows for much feeling. Rosnes is particularly effective as she draws a beautifully emotional response from her cascading keyboard work. Lewis's magically effective stick and cymbal work make the song immediately identifiable and command repeat playing. This is an underrated performance from a group that created a wonderfully enduring piece of music.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello