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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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PLAS JOHNSON

This Must Be the Plas! /
Mood for the Blues

Fresh Sound FSR-CD 818

 

 

This Must Be the Plas

1. Too Close for Comfort

2. I Hadn’t Anyone Till You

3. Heart and Soul

4. Poor Butterfly

5. Memories of you

6. Just One of Those Things

7. There is No Greater Love

8. if I Had You

9. My Silent Love

10. Day In, Day Out

11. My Old Flame

12. S’il Vous Plait

 

Plas Johnson – Tenor sax, alto sax, baritone sax

Larry Bunker – Vibes (tracks 1, 4, 7, 10)

Gene Estes – Vibes (tracks 3, 6, 8, 12)

Vic Feldman – Vibes (tracks 2, 5, 9, 11)

Paul Smith – Piano

Ernie Freeman – Hammond organ (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9-11)

Howard Roberts – Guitar (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6-8, 10, 12)

Bill Pitman – Guitar (tracks 2, 5, 9, 11)

Red Callender – Bass

Earl Palmer – Drums

 

Mood for the Blues

13. Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’

14. One Mint Julep

15. How Long Has This been Going On

16. Blues in my Heart

17. I’ve Got a Right to Cry

18. Please Send Me Someone to Love

19. Tanya

20. Fool That I Am

21. Chloe

22. Since I Fell for You

23. Mood for the Blues

24. I Wanna Be Loved

 

Plas Johnson – Tenor sax

Ray Johnson – Piano

Ernie Freeman – Hammond organ (tracks 19, 21, 22)

Rene Hall – Guitar

Bill Pitman – Guitar (tracks 18, 21, 22)

Red Callender – Bass

Earl Palmer - Drums

 

Bonus Tracks

25. The Big Twist

26. Come Rain or Come Shine

 

Plas Johnson - Tenor sax

John Anderson – Trumpet

John Ewing – Trombone

Jewell Grant – Baritone sax

Ray Johnson - Piano

Irving Ashby – Guitar

Red Callender – Bass

Ed “Sharky” Hall – Drums

 

Plas Johnson is best known for his tenor sax solo on Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme. Listening to this album, it is easy to understand why Mancini chose Plas to play on his composition. Johnson’s saxophone has a smooth, furry tone and he can bend notes so that he reflects the slinky movements of a panther on the prowl.

Plas grew up in New Orleans, but it was on the West Coast where he became a studio musician very much in demand for his ability to play anything with style and grace. That style is evident throughout all 26 tracks of this generous CD (75 minutes’ worth). The CD comprises two LPs: This Must Be the Plas from 1959 and Mood for the Blues from 1960, plus two bonus tracks from a single recorded for Capitol in 1957.

Plas is well supported by a variety of small groups on the first LP, where the other main soloists are the vibes players, who all contribute good solos. Ernie Freeman adds discreet touches on the Hammond organ at appropriate moments but he is never overwhelming. Pianist Paul Smith beginsPoor Butterfly with a suitably oriental opening. But the main focus is on Plas Johnson, who mostly plays tenor sax but switches to the alto on Day In, Day Out and the baritone sax on I Hadn’t Anyone Till You and If I Had You. His alto style is jaunty and his baritone playing has a nice gruff sound.

Plas plays equally well on the second LP, although the string-laden backing makes for a less jazzy ambience than on the first LP. But it enables Johnson to show his skill at playing such ballads as Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’ and Since I Fell for You. Yet he could also play in raunchy rhythm-and-blues style, as he does on his first hit single, The Big Twist.

As this album shows, Plas Johnson wasn’t only “The Pink Panther Man” but a musician of great versatility.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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