Trumpeter and Composer, Russ Johnson, explores new musical territory with his 4th album as a leader, “Headlands,” on Woolgathering Records October 16th, 2018.
Trumpeter and Composer Russ Johnson was commissioned to premiere a new band and set of compositions for the 2015 Hyde Park Jazz Festival in Chicago: the result is “Headlands,” a 12 movement Suite he composed for a collection of Chicago’s finest musicians, including Rob Clearfield on keyboards, Matt Ulery on bass, and Jon Deitemyer on drums.
Headlands is a through composed work that is intended to be listened to in its entirety. The Suite consists of six compositions connected by solo improvised passages by each member of the ensemble. A short theme serves as bookends to the proceedings. The music is designed to be structurally open/elastic to allow for (maximum) flexibility in live performance while still maintaining a strict overall from to give the work coherence. The Headlands Suite is music that traverses the areas between modern jazz and the avant-garde. The music covers a wide range of compositional and improvisational styles. (Lyrical-spacious-dense, contrast of simple and complex, beauty-tuneful…DYNAMIC – extremely soft to very loud, underlying rock feels).
This is music that takes risks; the goal is not finding “perfection” within a performance, but to truly create the Suite ANEW with every new opportunity. Captured live at the Hungry Brain in Chicago, this recording represents (but) one (version) of this concept.
Serpent Kane [5:18]
Transition (Johnson) [2:25]
Transition (Clearfield) [3:07]
Mons Calpe [7:38]
Transition (Ulery) [3:24]
Transition (Deitemyer) [2:03]
Russ Johnson – trumpet
Rob Clearfield – keyboards
Matt Ulery – double bass
Jon Deitemyer – drums
recording and live analog mix by Dave Zuchowski
mastering by Anthony Gravino
“Leading his new Headlands band, Johnson offers a wide range of expression, from his brilliant opening fanfare to the lyricism listeners have come to expect from him. Johnson presided over a heady, atmospheric music, the band’s plugged-in, gauzy textures provide a striking contrast to Johnson’s sometimes piercing, sometimes tender trumpet lines.”
Howard Reich – Chicago Tribune
Johnson moved to the Midwest in 2011 after spending more than two decades as an important member of the New York City musical community, where he established himself as a fearless improviser who is (comfortable) in many musical settings (jazz/improvised/classical). Since moving to the Chicago area, Johnson has continued to forge his path as a unique composer and improviser, and has created several projects and bands: Headlands is the most recent example.