Solo performer: Lonnie Johnson (vocals, guitar).
Includes liner notes by Sam Charters.
Personnel: Lonnie Johnson (vocals, guitar).
Liner Note Author: Samuel Charters.
Recording information: 1967.
Editor: Leslie Spitz-Edson.
Photographer: Esmond Edwards.
Fans who think the blues has little more to offer than screaming guitars and over-amplified harmonicas have obviously never heard Lonnie Johnson (1889-1970). A New Orleans native who spent much of his youth in Europe and St. Louis, Johnson saw the blues through a jazz player's eyes, incorporating jazz's complex chording and hip attitude into a genre otherwise noted for its raw, unadorned passion. As a result of his masterful playing and distinctive approach, no lesser (and diverse) greats than B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Charlie Christian, and T-Bone Walker readily and enthusiastically acknowledged Johnson's influence on their playing.
THE COMPLETE FOLKWAYS RECORDINGS, a 1967 collection of Johnson solo performances, offers a unique opportunity to hear this master outside his usual ensemble setting. On this generous 24-track offering, Johnson works his way through numerous original blues as well as a few well-chosen jazz standards ("Prisoner of Love" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Old Rocking Chair," among several others). Although recorded late in Johnson's life, the blues great's playing and singing show no signs of deterioration. On the contrary, this is the work of a man at the top of his game. A classic.