It’s J.J. Johnson’s Birthday, 2018

It’s J.J. Johnson’s Birthday! This is from J.J. Inc, one of my very favorite recordings from this fantastic musician, who left us in 2001. J.J. Inc was recorded in August 1960 for Columbia Records, NYC, and released on April 10, 1961. The other personnel include Clifford Jordon, Tenor Sax, Arthur Harper, Bass, Albert Heath, Drums, Cedar Walton piano, and a young and fiery Freddie Hubbard on trumpet.

Here’s Mowhawk from the album:

Jack Teagarden High Tone Studies

High Tone Studies for Trombone

Almost any English teacher can be counted on to make some sort of a handout on when to use a comma. It’s sort of that same way with brass players and exercise books, going back — at least — to Arbans famous method.

Both comma handouts and brass exercise books have this in common: despite some points of controversy, you end up with lots of similar material and advice. And yet, despite all that, there’s still the occasional insight and innovation.

In 1936, Jack Teagarden, the jazz trombonist from Vernon, Texas, known for his ability to play a whole lot of trombone in the first 4 positions, came out with his High Tone Studies for Trombone, a short treatise of 51 exercises designed to help get the player up to a high D. The book is currently available on Apple’s iBooks, and also at Cherry Classics Music. As CCM’s blurb says, “it is obvious that Teagarden had put a lot of thought into his technique.” A bit of classic good advice from the book:

Do not force or strain at any time. Rest frequently.

Happy Birthday, J.J. Johnson!

It’s the birthday of one of the great voices of jazz music, J.J. Johnson. Of the slide instrument, J.J. — often referred to as the father of modern jazz trombone — once quipped, “It’s a horrible, beastly to play, especially to play jazz on.” Well? You could never really tell that when J.J. played. His handling of the trombone always projected a relaxed calm, and the musical results speak for themselves.

In 1960, for Jazz at the Philharmonic, here’s J.J. playing with Stan Getz and band: Victor Feldman piano, Sam Jones, bass, Louis Hayes, drums. The location is the Salle Pleyel in Paris, France. The musical vehicle is Sweet Georgia Brown, a tune whose changes J.J. was evidently fond of improvising on. He recorded it more than once as a harmonic basis for tunes he composed like Sweet Georgia Gillespie and Tea Pot. Speaking of composing, the fact that J.J. was an inventive composer showed in all of his musical expressions.