From the Inside
Entrapping, calmly-incendiary, luring, provocative-these are only a few ways to describe Daryl Johnson's boon to the jazz realm. His latest album release From The Inside is forty-six minutes of tranquil, yet massively intense jazz; this album is fulminating with artistic invention. All of the tunes on the album are originals of Johnson's except for the standard 'You Don't Know What Love is.' The album begins with a smooth, hip-hop groove. Throughout the tune, the texture and mood stay subdued. While the feel may be calm, johnson's lines are not; they have a relaxed fierceness. At the close, the tune segues to the second composition. Full of off-beat punches, 'The Wizard' is spellbinding. The groove changes to funk and johnson lays it down. Often times 5/4 can sound contrived and uneasy, but with amazing skills the trio performs in this meter comfortably and naturally. A great credit to Johnson's compositional skills, the melody to 'The Temple' is genuinely in 5/4, contributing to the ease the song portrays. The next tune is a laid back waltz (in 6); the feel is swing. After Johnson's solo, bassist Lonnie Plaxico delivers a stellar performance. The tune then ends as calmly as it began. Johnson's last original is for full ensemble. In 6/4, the tune features a persistent bassline. It is quite different than anything that has preceded it. The album's compositions seem to gradually build to this tunes intensity and ambience, before receding for the last piece: a solo-piano rendition of the standard 'You Don't Know What Love Is.' Upon recently having the opportunity to hear Kenny Barron speak, one of the key points he stressed was the importance of good rhythm. He recalled a story of a drummer who would only bring his ride cymbal to jam sessions! He stated that because the drummer had such a great feeling in his ride cymbal, that none of the other musicians ever missed the other drums and cymbals. This kind of devotion to feel can make or brake jazz musicians. The album From The Inside proves that Daryl Johnson certainly has impeccable feel. From top to bottom, From The Inside is unique and intriguing. Daryl Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. --Joshua Musselwhite, Jazz Improv magazine, Sept, 2004.