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Jay Jay Johnson – Bebop Trombonist (2)

tue 13 feb 2024
Theme: Jazz

Saturday February 17th, 5:00 PM – House of Hard Bop.
J.J. Johnson has been called the Charlie Parker of the trombone. He brought trombone playing to a level that could rival that of bebop brass players who played instruments with vents and valves. The 1950s were extremely productive. His discography would eventually amount to approximately one hundred albums, 42 of which were under his own name.
June 6, 1955. In his studio in Hackensack (New Jersey), sound wizard Rudy van Gelder sits at his control table. The programme includes a recording for Blue Note Records, with trombonist J.J. Johnson, tenorist Hank Mobley, pianist Horace Silver, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Kenny Clarke. Six pieces are released to the world, under the title The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, volume 2.

You’re Mine, You opens the series of four pieces on this album at a slow pace. The trombone in the spotlight – Mobley only appears briefly in the opening and closing. No piano solo.
In Daylie Double, an up-tempo Johnson original, almost all of the quintet members solo. Harmoniously it remains close to home, but the four shaped parts of eight sizes each are cleverly strung together. Pianist Horace Silver quotes a theme by Thelonious Monk in the last bars of his solo, which is immediately adopted by Johnson.
No lack of variety. In Groovin’ – also by Johnson – the relationships between the two wind players are different. And Horace Silver immediately shows in the third bar that he has opened up the Soul register considerably – something he continues later, in his solo.
Portrait of Jennie concludes this block.


The record Dial J.J. 5 (1957) is a product of the Columbia label. In addition to Johnson, the quintet consists of Tommy Flanagan (piano), Wilbur Little (bass), Elvin Jones! (drums), and the Belgian Bobby Jaspar on flute and tenor.

Jaspar moved to jazzophile Paris in the early 1950s. There were opportunities there. He played with local musicians, but also with musicians passing through, and Americans who settled for a longer period of time. There he met the vocalist/pianist Blossom Dearie, whom he married. In the mid-1950s he flew across the ocean and in no time played with people like Miles Davis, Toots Thielemans, Bill Evans, and therefore also with Johnson.

In this hour you will hear nine of the ten pieces on Dial J.J. 5. Nine pieces, by eight composers: Johnson, Bobby Jaspar, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, George Gershwin, Bud Powell, Thad Jones and Burton Lane.

(A few months after the release of Dial J.J. 5, the exact same line-up performed in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw on August 17, 1957. The recording of that concert was published in 2009 by the Dutch Jazz Archives (NJA), on the CD What’s New – J.J. Johnson. )

House of Hard Bop – Eric Ineke

Click for the Newsletter about J.J. Johnson-Bebop Trombonist (1)
Click for the Newsletter about J.J. Johnson-Bebop Trombonist (1)

(photo: Bobby Jaspar with Blossom Dearie)