New Beginnings

by: Henry Johnson

After some success at MCA, guitarist Henry Johnson makes some impressive new beginnings with Heads Up, focusing on warm and fuzzy string work that breezes like George Benson and Phil Upchurch and turns fiery and fusiony a la Metheny every so often. Johnson's stroking is sassy and expressive on both pop/funk and more jazzy exercises, and he shows off his flair in numerous settings, both busy (as on the fast and furious original "Flying Fish") and spare (a poignant solo turn on "Lush Life"). He's chosen his covers well, with a brassy arrangement of Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" and Stevie Wonder's soulful "Creepin'" as standouts. Bob Long's keys and Freddie Hubbard's horn provide snazzy complements to Johnson's jamming. ~ Jonathan Widran

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