Russ Johnson CD makes “DownBeat” Best of 2012
University of Wisconsin-Parkside Director of Jazz Studies Russ Johnson has, according to DownBeat magazine editor Aaron Cohan, been busy leading sessions and working as a sideman consistently for at least a decade. In 2012, Johnson and his band, the Co Streiff, Russ Johnson Quartet, stepped to the front of the stage and the resulting CD "In Circles" won critical praise.
The foursome of Swiss saxophonist Co Streiff, Johnson on trumpet, Christian Weber playing bass, and drummer Julian Sartorius made the "DownBeat" year-end "Best of 2012" list. "DB" is the most important and influential magazine covering the jazz music scene.
While giving the disc four stars, DownBeat's Peter Margasak said Johnson and Streiff "have a strong musical rapport." In that May 2012 review, Margasak said, "They only occasionally deliver tight unison figures; more often than not they simultaneously shape melodies with an appealing looseness and a kind of sweet-sour tonal contrast, while at other times they revel in some high-wire counterpoint."
Margasak compared Johnson's tune "The Loper" to Charles Mingus' "Fables of Faubus" and "Farks Larks" to "an Ornette Coleman classic."
Ejazznews reviewer Glenn Astarita started off Russ Johnson's year in a good way with a Jan. 2 critique of "In Circles" that said, in part, "Johnson's brazen tone and Streiff's resourceful bag of tricks translate into multifarious improvisational segments, dappled with exploratory persuasions. However, they prevent matters from getting out of hand, and strike a cogent balance between structure, melody, counterpoint and offsetting storylines throughout the program."The Co Streiff, Russ Johnson Quartet's "In Circles" is on Intakt Records. The CD can be purchased at iTunes.