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The Blues Soul Of Johnny (Guitar) Watson
Go! Bop! present a reissue of the second album by Johnny Watson, The Blues Soul Of Johnny (Guitar) Watson, originally released on Chess in 1963. Johnny was already a well-praised musician in the field of jazz, rhythm & blues and a popular sidekick for early rock'n'roll heroes such as Little Richard when he recorded this beautiful album. Despite the title of the album, it mostly contains a swinging and accessible vocal jazz with an irresistible groove and instrumental passages. Johnny Watson does not even play guitar on this record but gets ballistic on the piano and lays down some striking vocals with his distinctive voice. The overall pace is relaxed and the music has a bit of a retro feeling steadily rooted in the '40s and '50s swing and vocal jazz, but Watson with his mates on drums and bass really pull it off with a fresh and exciting edge. A steaming song like "I'll Remember April" might be an exception - an instrumental with furious piano lines and a nearly Latin beat that recalls a bossa nova dance tune just played in a more hot-blooded style. Even a creamy ballad like "Polka Dots And Moonbeams" has its relevance in the entire musical picture. These two songs show the edges of his style and they present an inspired bandleader and musician anyway. No wonder he reinvented his own style a decade later when funk and soul started to dominate the black music scene. Still the music sounds and feels like the cover of the album shows - a very well dressed and styled young man playing chess alone in front of the fireplace. The album really turns this picture into music - well executed, well produced, perfectly styled but still spirited and passionate. Mr. Watson managed to live in both parallel worlds. The mansions and the backstreets echo his melodies. He was a visionary at each stage of his career. For fans of outstanding 1950s and 1960s vocal jazz.