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Album Review

Having distinguished himself in both jazz and blues circles for nearly a quarter century, guitarist Lonnie Johnson made a wise move when he signed a contract with the King label and began grinding out records that sold well in the newly designated rhythm & blues category. Most of the recordings compiled and reissued in 2008 as part of the Classics Blues and Rhythm series were made during December 1947, including the romantic hit "Tomorrow Night," which was later covered by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, La Vern Baker, and Champion Jack Dupree. Lest followers of bop and early modern jazz be fooled, "Blues in the Closet" is not the same tune as bassist Oscar Pettiford's groovy masterpiece. Johnson's "Blues in the Closet" sounds a lot like most of his music from this period; slow and reflective, with artful runs over the frets of his electrically amplified guitar. This edition's last three titles, including a remake of "Tomorrow Night," were recorded at some point in early 1948. Lonnie Johnson's saga continues on the next volume of his complete works as reissued by Classics in 2007.


Born: 08 February 1899 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Blues guitar simply would not have developed in the manner that it did if not for the prolific brilliance of Lonnie Johnson. He was there to help define the instrument's future within the genre and the genre's future itself at the very beginning, his melodic conception so far advanced from most of his prewar peers as to inhabit a plane all his own. For more than 40 years, Johnson played blues, jazz, and ballads his way; he was a true blues originator whose influence hung heavy on a host of subsequent...
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