This is a rough translation from Italian:
SONGS FROM THE RECORD WORLD
JELLY ROLL JOHNSON
JMJ RECORDS JMJD 1122, 2008
Electric-Acoustic Blues/Jazz /harmonica
Author: Fabrizio Poggi
Many friends of mine who usually listen to jazz-blues cds often complain about the boring routine that often is found in west coast modern blues works. These works sometimes are far from the fascinating sounds made by the creators of this style such as T – Bone Walker and George “Harmonica” Smith. Here is a disc that they will certainly like.
A cd of a great harmonica player who is until now little known in Italy. Jelly Roll Johnson is well known in the Nashville music scene. You can listen to his harmonica on many great contemporary country music albums. But Jelly Roll loves not only country, but also blues and vintage jazz.
The disc is all instrumental and brings us back to the days in which the blues was often a “music without words.” For bluesmen who performed in the beginning of the last century in juke joints in the southern United States, singing was almost useless. There were no microphones and their voice was too difficult to be heard in those noisy places, where the history of blues was made. But Jelly Roll, with the beautiful sound of his diatonic harmonica, always acoustic and expressive in a extraordinary way, makes up for the lack of vocals.
Johnson really “sings” through his instrument, giving us the same emotions that a great blues singer can give us. To accompany him in this adventure is a stellar trio, with the great Pat Bergeson on guitar, Dave Pomeroy on bass and Chris Brown on drums.
The CD begins with a beautiful version of the classic folk-blues “Key to the Highway” which has a very tasty guitar solo. Following the great Big Bill Bronzy piece is one of the most beautiful songs on the album, “Please Send Me Someone to Love.” This song, by the unforgettable Percy Mayfield, is played by Jelly Roll with great lyricism and passion. Johnson dives into classic jazz with a great tribute to Duke Ellington.
“In a Sentimental Mood” has an excellent arrangement and a beautiful chromatic harmonica tone, thousand miles away from the quite boring and not dynamic sound that sometimes this instrument has when not in the hands of greats as Stevie Wonder and Toots Thielemans.
Other songs highly suggested are “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, by Ray Charles, “Everybody’s Cryin Mercy” by Mose Allison (with a great job by Johnson on the low register of the harmonica) and “Walkin’ After Midnight,” an excellent shuffle from the repertoire of Patsy Cline.
The CD closes with a beautiful and essential version of the Charlie Mingus classic “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” This song is a masterpiece of style and heart that alone is worth the purchase of the whole cd. Highly recommended to all those who think that the blues is also poetry!
You can find it at www.jellyrolljohnson.com