With his strong, expressive tone and his unflappable rhythmic authority, Eddie Johnson still embodies the devastating mixture of ballroom elegance and roadhouse fire that the swing era brought to jazz. What’s more, he combines the comforting voice of considerable experience with a contagiously fresh approach to tunes he’s played a thousand times. Of course, sharing the stage with someone half your age–as Johnson does with fellow saxist Eric Schneider in this quintet–can help. (And Schneider, who recently released his own cassette album, deserves plenty of notice for his uncannily dramatic approach to improvising.) But Eddie Johnson, who keeps himself as young as his music, masters his own fate. He speaks through his horn with the unique inflections and syntax of the Swing era–a musical epoch ruled by Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young and Ben Webster–the period during which he came of age. More important, his playing now lets you understand what the fuss was all about back then. Tuesdays, 6 PM, Moosehead Bar & Grill, 163 W. Harrison; 922-3640.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bruce Powell.