Russ Johnson

Russ Johnson, a trumpeter and great musician in jazz, is one of many. Although he has only released a few records, he has been a sideman on many albums. He has performed with Jenny Scheinman and other great musicians like Noah Preminger, Diedre Roman, Diedre Rodman (among others), Lee Konitz, Jason Rigby, Steve Swallow and Michael Bates. Because he can play serious trumpet, he should be more well-known. Johnson relocated to Milwaukee about a year ago from New York. He had been there since the 1990s. However, he still maintains a regular presence in Milwaukee even though he moved. Johnson, a Racine native, was offered a job as a jazz instructor at University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha. This has allowed him to start showing up for gigs in Chicago. He was not in Chicago until the fall when I learned that he was there. He played at the Chicago Jazz Festival with the Jason Stein Quartet, substituting for Keefe Jackson (tenor saxophonist) and didn’t realize it. He was a great substitute, and he fit in like he had been with the band for many years. Johnson is a strong-swinging postbop player, with a brawny and sophisticated sound, tartly melodic and probing. He sounds like he’d be able to play nonjazz sources without being too experimental. The trumpeter released In Circles, (Intakt) earlier this year. He was joined by Co Streiff, the Swiss rhythm section consisting of Christian Weber and Julian Satorius. This was his third album with his name on it. He also recorded a duo with Mick Rossi, and also led his own quartet in a 2004 session. The album features songs by Johnson and Streiff. It covers a lot of stylistic ground from the Ornette-ish “Farks Larks”, which sounds like Lee Morgan would have used, to the more heavy, blues-driven performance with the energy and vintage Charles Mingus. from

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