Minneapolis native Gordy Johnson traveled the globe, supplying plump, pungent bass lines for the likes of Maynard Ferguson, Roy Buchanan, and Chuck Mangione before returning home and establishing himself as one of the most versatile and sought-after musicians in town. As a leader, he's been fascinated with the piano jazz trio, and has recorded four eclectic volumes of trio work in the past decade or so. He'll celebrate the release of his latest, GJ4 (Tonalities), at the Dakota with a fine local slate of the album's contributors: drummer Phil Hey and pianists Laura Caviani, Tanner Taylor, and Bryan Nichols. The disc strays even further afield, with pianists Frank Kimbrough and Bill Carrothers, and drummers Steve Smith, Dave King, Todd Strait, and Matt Wilson. Johnson is something of a genius at putting these trios together, mixing up local and national players, up-and-comers and seasoned vets; all responding with inspired work. Whether exploring blues, bop, or sly sambas, the results are always intriguing, with Johnson's dulcet, woody rhythms providing a reassuring pulse right at their core.
Sun., May 25, 7 p.m., 2008
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