Guitarist Burr Johnson sports a hefty resume via performances with jazz organist Jack McDuff, the legendary Ray Charles and back-to-back stints at the Montreux Jazz Festival. He also developed a signature "Burr Johnson model" guitar for Hagstrum, while partaking in numerous clinics. Needless to say, he’s a busy fellow and flashes his enviable technique on this largely, high-impact trio outing to include a few ho hum, good-timey tracks featuring his rather blasé vocals. Putting that aside, Johnston generates some killer riffs with his slick picking jazz-funk-rock chord voicings and vicious single note leads.
The band is undeniably tight as they occasionally ascend matters into the power-trio realm. But it’s Johnson’s penchant for the dynamic that yields many of the highlights. He launches into hyper-mode on various works while navigating the rhythm section through knotty unison choruses and complex developments. Otherwise, Johnson’s instrumental pieces often feature memorable hooks, so it’s not all about technical fireworks.
The guitarist delves into the funk spectrum yet renders a brisk, Wes Montgomery-like vibe amid ascending jazz-based chord progressions on "Winter." Then he generates a blitzing progressive-rock groove with loud crunch chords and clear-toned leads during the tuneful piece "Summer Nights."
Johnson could seemingly conquer the musical world. And it’s no wonder why he’s toured with many of the greats, spanning several years. Overall, there are some exhilarating moments here. Coupled with a solid compositional pen, the artist merges the best of several stylizations or genres into a comprehensive musical statement that should whet the appetites of jazz-fusion and progressive rock advocates. Moreover, he provides more than a few lessons for the aspiring or even seasoned guitarist.