365 Days of Album Recommendations – May 25

J.J. & Kai: The J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding Trombone Octet


Just picked this up on vinyl at my local shop, and I’m psyched!

As made clear by the cover artwork, this is the 1981 reissue on the Columbia Jazz Odyssey series. The original artwork is shown in the upper left corner of the back cover liner notes. Personally, I feel strongly that the reissue is the moral choice if you’re deciding which to purchase, because the original has a cartoon on the cover that depicts 8 trombonists … but they’re all white! J.J. Johnson, of course, was not.

The rhythm section here is top-shelf, and features some of my favorite players, including Milt Hinton, Hank Jones, and Ray Brown.

The song selection is tight, too. I’m never, ever going to love Night In Tunisia, but this is actually a pretty appealing version. Great takes here of Surrey With The Fringe On Top, You Don’t Know What Love Is, and just a stunning version of You’re My Thrill (written by Jay Gorney and Sidney Clare—Clare being the same fella who incongruously wrote The Good Ship Lollipop! Of perhaps more significance is the fact that Clare is credited with the first “official” use of the phrase “rock and roll” in song.).

Great find, this. Highly recommended. Vintage jazz. Lots of trombones. Killer rhythm section. Great songlist. And a not-unbearable version of Night In Tunisia. What’s not to love?

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