'Johnson creates music like lacework and then bursts out into a solid melody line that can absolutely surprise even the close listener.' This is how one reviewer described the piano playing of Karl Johnson. Listen for yourself. Enjoy the playing of Karl Johnson along with the superb bass of Clifford Griffin and drums of Walter Kindred. Karl Johnson, Clifford Griffin and Walter Kindred have long professional careers as musicians. They have played with many musicians, known and less known. Each has appeared on other CDs backing up other artists. They have played together around Chicago for several years. The quality of these musicians was evident during the recording session. Each track recorded that afternoon was done with one take. It took some time to select the eight tracks featured on this CD. They all sounded good. Karl Johnson began his piano study as a small child winning many competitions. At 11 and 12 he traveled with the USO at the end of World War II with Bob Hope and other entertainers including Dorothy Donergan. At 16 he graduated high school and went to the New York Conservatory on 3 scholarships. He finished at 19 with a master's degree in performance. Unable to secure work as a classical pianist, Karl worked to shift to jazz piano. Classically trained, Johnson traces his influences to everyone from the legendary Art Tatum to Oscar Peterson. Interestingly, he also loves the piano playing of 1940s classical and pop film star Jose Iturbi. 'His music was so expressive and rhythmic,' Johnson says. 'He felt the music as a jazz musician does, even if he didn't play jazz.' In addition to playing the piano, for a number of years after he returned to Chicago in the 1960's, Karl played the organ with several groups including the Organizers and Cozzie Eggleston. Over the years, Karl has played with many musicians and singers, including many well-known names. Bassist Clifford Griffin has supported a cadre of fine performers for many years. He was on the road with Nancy Wilson in the late 60's. He joined the Errol Garner Trio in Milwaukee in the 70's and has performed with singers Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jennifer Holiday. For a number of years he has been playing with the King Fleming Trio as well as with other groups in the Chicago area. His playing is refreshing, brilliant and engaging. Walter Kindred studied piano at age eight. He studied drums at age eleven until college at Vandercook College of Music and the American Conservatory of Music. From 1968 to 1978, he performed and recorded in Chicago area and toured with different artists: vibes, congas and trap drums. Taught trap drumming at American Conservatory of Music (1971-72) for James Dutton. Played vibes and percussion in the Broadway plays 'Bubbling Brown Sugar' and 'Your Arms to Short to Box with God'. He performed in concert and other venues with Von Freeman, George Freeman, Chico Freeman, Max Roach, Johhny Hartman, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, AACM, Pete Cosy, Verdin White, Larry Ball, Lewis Ball, Ari Brown, Vandy Harris, Wayne Bennett. Since 1996 he has performed in the Chicago area with local artists such as Ari Brown, Paula Greer, Sonny Seals, Karl Johnson, the Note Benders Big Band. He also has performed in the musicals 'Billy Ekstine', 'Chicago Golden Soul', 'Memory Lane' and understudy for 'Wang Dang Doodle'.
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