Lonnie Johnson: Don't Ever Love
Don't Ever Love
Lonnie Johnson (guitar, vocals)
Blues by Lonnie Johnson (Prestige/Bluesville OBCCD-502-2)
Claude Hopkins (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass), Bobby Donaldson (drums).
Composed by Lonnie Johnson.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 8, 1960
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
This is the first track on the first album made after Lonnie Johnson was "rediscovered" by Chris Albertson in Philadelphia in 1959 (making it Johnson's second "comeback"). Most striking is Johnson's vocal artistry; the man who was one of the ultimate guitar virtuosos sings with such power, nuance, dynamics, expressiveness, timing and phrasing to show that he could be not just a very good singer, but a great one. Johnson's guitar work was so exceptional that it tends to distract attention from his later vocal mastery. One good listen to this extraordinary performance will set that straight.
This track shows two other things beyond some fine work on the electric guitar. Johnson is joined here by two first-rate jazz musicians, saxophonist Hal Singer and pianist Claude Hopkins, along with good men on bass and drums. The track shows how well Johnson worked with a fine jazz group; these guys click musically as if they'd played together as a unit for years. Johnson also shows how he felt no need to hog the spotlight, giving space for a full soulful, soaring sax solo by Singer. The track is also one of those ultimate demonstrations of how the blues is a prime foundation of jazz and adds such emotive and textural depth to that music. For anyone who loves jazz and blues, this is must-have music.
Reviewer: Dean Alger