Tag Archives: Yves Francois

Charlie Johnson, Straight Out of the “Holy *$#%!” Files

Charlie Johnson led one of the most popular jazz ensembles in Harlem, right around the time some guy from DC was starting his own career as a bandleader.  The rest, as they say, is footnotes.

Most historians concentrate on the nascent big band language contained in Benny Waters and Benny Carter‘s arrangements, painting the Johnson band as just another stepping stone in some inevitable teleology of jazz.  Listening to the band as its own entirely unique animal, with one foot in Jazz Age stomp and another in Swing Era architecture, is far more rewarding (not to mention fairer to the musicians).

This writer used to experience great satisfaction and great disappointment that the band’s complete, teasingly scant recorded legacy was contained on one French EPM Jazz Archives CD he purchased as a teenager, with subpar sound and inaccurate personnel listings (still available for premium price!).  Yet it was all that was available and all he needed, until now.

Thanks to the miracle that is the internet, here’s the Johnson band in all of their steaming, unissued and unearthed glory:

Thanks to whoever posted this brand new side on SoundCloud, and to the erudite trumpeter and jazz historian Yves Francois for spreading the news.  Keep ’em coming!

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