Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Burr Johnson Band: What It Is

Lexicon Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.5.09
Buy CD: What It Is

Guitarist Burr Johnson, though not known as a “straight-ahead” jazz musician, has played with artists such as Ray Charles, B.B. King and Spyro Gyra. Johnson performed at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival two years in a row, headlined the Manchester Jazz Festival, and currently is touring throughout Germany and the United States.

He also has played with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and, as a guitar instructor, particularly enjoys working with youngsters.

His “band” on this CD actually is a trio; he's ably backed by bassist Al Payson and drummer Thierry Arpino. They play a combination of funk, rock and blues. Johnson composed and arranged all the tunes in this album, his ninth, and he's obviously hooked on electronics synthesizers.

While he can play dazzling single-string runs, he's primarily a harmonic-chord player. He consistently uses electronics to sustain chords, overlaying additional chords for both melodic and solo phrases. He has absolute control of his instrument, and is capable of blazing tempos.

Once again, guitar lovers will enjoy this one.

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