CD Mr. Johnson Signing Off (CD 215729),
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Mr. Johnson Signing Off

  • 1. Kansas City Stomp
    2. Cannonball Rag
    3. When the Sun Goes Down
    4. Twelfth Street Rag
    5. Pidgeon Walk
    6. Dink's Blues
    7. Vegas Stomp, Las
    8. Original Jelly Roll Blues
    9. Exactly Like You
    10. Stomp de Lowdown
    11. Four or Five Times
    12. Lazy Blues
    13. Lady Be Good
    14. Frog-I-More Rag
    15. Clementine
    16. Dink's Last Blues
    17. That Indian Rag
    18. Grace and Beauty
    19. At the Jazz Band Ball
    20. Wolverine Blues
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): CD DE 646

  • Credits
    ProducerRobert G. Koester; Steve Wagner
    EngineerCecil Charles

    Personnel includes: Russ Gilman AKA Dink Johnson (piano).
    Personnel: Dink Johnson (piano); Russ Gilman (piano); John Joseph (drums).
    Liner Note Authors: Dick Mushlitz; Paul Affeldt.
    Recording information: 1950.
    Although Dink Johnson could also play the clarinet and drums, he was best known for his piano playing -- at least during the final decades of his life -- and on Mr. Johnson Signing Off, his role is that of a singing pianist. The main focus of this hour-long CD is recordings that the New Orleans native/Los Angeles transplant made for the Euphonic label around 1950, when he had about four years left to live. These spirited, good-natured performances often bring to mind Fats Waller, another singing pianist who was known for his healthy sense of humor. As much of a virtuoso as Waller was, he wasn't afraid to laugh -- Waller definitely knew how to have fun, and Johnson brings a similar outlook to the table whether he is performing Jelly Roll Morton pieces (including "Kansas City Stomp" and "Original Jelly Roll Blues") or interpreting familiar Tin Pan Alley standards such as "Lady Be Good" and "Exactly Like You." Comparing Johnson to Waller isn't saying that Johnson was trying to be an exact clone; Johnson was his own man, and Waller was hardly his only influence. Johnson's piano playing also owes a lot to Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson (two other pianists who had a major impact in the '20s), as well as the Southern piano blues tradition. Johnson's humorous performances on Mr. Johnson Signing Off are quite a contrast to the bebop and cool jazz going on in 1950; at a time when many bop and cool artists were pointing jazz in a more complex, intellectual direction, Johnson continued to approach jazz as party music -- an approach that went over well in Southern California. Outside of his adopted home of L.A., Johnson wasn't as well known as he should have been. But that fact doesn't make Mr. Johnson Signing Off any less enjoyable. ~ Alex Henderson

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