The Unsung Blues Legend: The Living Room Sessions

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All Music Guide - David R. Adler
This one of a kind CD, a never-before-released solo performance by Lonnie Johnson, features the bluesman five years before his death, playing guitar and singing in the living room of painter and friend Bernie Strassberg in 1965. The raw recording quality and solo guitar-and-voice format recall the classic Delta blues recordings of Robert Johnson no relation. The ultra-informal setting also brings to mind Lenny Breau's Cabin Fever, on which the acoustic 7-string master was recorded in an isolated log cabin. While there's a deeply traditional blues feeling to Johnson's performances, many of the songs he performs come from the jazz canon: "I'm Confessin'," "I Can't Give You...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - David R. Adler
This one of a kind CD, a never-before-released solo performance by Lonnie Johnson, features the bluesman five years before his death, playing guitar and singing in the living room of painter and friend Bernie Strassberg in 1965. The raw recording quality and solo guitar-and-voice format recall the classic Delta blues recordings of Robert Johnson no relation. The ultra-informal setting also brings to mind Lenny Breau's Cabin Fever, on which the acoustic 7-string master was recorded in an isolated log cabin. While there's a deeply traditional blues feeling to Johnson's performances, many of the songs he performs come from the jazz canon: "I'm Confessin'," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," Kurt Weill's "September Song," Duke Ellington's "Solitude," Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair," and Gershwin's "Summertime." But there's also plenty of straight blues, in particular Johnson's own "New Orleans Blues" and Bessie Smith's "Back Water Blues." Johnson's singing voice is remarkably versatile -- effortless and earthy on the blues, yet sophisticated enough to handle the tricky melodies of Ellington and Weill. Johnson goes for long stretches without a break, stringing together as many as seven songs back-to-back; a few are barely more than a minute long. But he stretches out for over five minutes on his own "There'll Be Some Changes Made," and he pulls off a seven-minute tour de force on W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." Throughout, Johnson displays an all-out mastery of the guitar, playing deft call-and-response licks in the manner of Nat King Cole, subtle chord-melody passages à la Eddie Lang, and screaming blues outbursts that nearly suggest Jimi Hendrix. One is struck by Johnson's stylistic breadth and depth and his contributions to a whole range of 20th century genres.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/11/2000
  • Label: Blues Magnet
  • UPC: 692287100124
  • Catalog Number: 1001

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Lonnie Johnson Primary Artist, Primary Artist
Technical Credits
Lonnie Johnson Composer
George Gershwin Composer
Frank Sinatra Composer
James P. Johnson Composer
W.C. Handy Composer
Jimmy McHugh Composer
Dorothy Fields Composer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Martha E. Koenig Composer
Huddie Ledbetter Composer
Leo Robin Composer
Henry W. Sanicola Jr. Composer
Spencer Williams Composer
Russ Columbo Composer
DuBose Heyward Composer
Clarence Gaskill Composer
Saul Bernie Composer
Stella Unger Composer
W. Benton Overstreet Composer
Sol Parker Composer
Billy Higgins Composer
Frederick Edward Weatherly Composer
Bernie Strassberg Producer
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