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Essential Blues Masters

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Album Review

By 1963, Lonnie Johnson was out of fashion and practically forgotten in America, but the Storyville label in Europe teamed him with pianist Otis Spann for this collection. Of the 13 tracks, nine are written by Johnson, and range from downhearted to more upbeat and hopeful, soulful blues, including his "You Don't Know What Love Is," not the jazz standard known by all. He does classics "See See Rider" and "Jelly Jelly," but starts off uncharacteristically with the ballad "Tomorrow Night," and then dives into a more formulaic, expected program. As there are far too few Lonnie Johnson recordings in this world, this one, even at the tail-end of his career, comes recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


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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