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Osie's Oasis

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Album Review

Although having performed and recorded with many of the top mainstream jazz artists of his time, Osie Johnson rarely went into the recording studio as a leader. Original Jazz Classics has reissued two sessions Johnson made for the Period label in February of 1955 while with the Count Basie Orchestra. Many of his sidemen are from the same Basie aggregation. Thad Jones and Frank Wess, the latter on both tenor and flute, were used to being in the spotlight, and their talents are fully utilized throughout this session. But there are solo opportunities for Basie players who rarely got a chance to show their wares while with the Count. For example, "Midnight Mirage" features Charlie Fowlkes and Ernie Wilkens on baritone and alto saxophones, respectively. Erstwhile trombonist Henry Coker solos on "The Desert Song," "Cokernut Tree," and "I Don't Want to Cry Anymore." Bill Hughes, Coker's playing partner in the Basie trombone section, gets time on "Cat Walk." One of the few participants not a member of the Basie bunch, pianist Dick Katz glistens on "Jumpin' at the Water Hole." As one would expect, the ensemble work is excellent. Johnson did most of the writing and arranging for this session. He also vocalizes on his "Don't Bug Me, Hug Me." With the exception of "Osmosis," where he and Benny Powell exchange ideas, Johnson does little soloing. It's apparent from the bright and lively playing that all participants are having a good time. Osie's Oasis is a fine mainstream swinging session with gifted jazz professionals which will delight most fans. To help maintain to the authenticity of the reissue, Leonard Feather's original liner notes are included.


Born: 11 January 1923 in Washington DC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

In the 1950s and the first half of the 1960s, Osie Johnson was one of the most in-demand drummers in New York, making a countless number of recordings and working steadily in the studios. He started working professionally in 1941, was with Sabby Lewis' band in Boston (1942-1943), and then was in the military where he played in a Navy band (1944-1945). After five years freelancing in Chicago, Johnson was a member of Earl Hines' band during 1951-1953. Stints with Dorothy Donegan and Illinois Jacquet...
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