Johnny A Driven
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Premiere Guitar
April 2010

Johnny A. - One November Night

Guitarists with a distinctive sound are as rare as natural beauty in Hollywood. Since going strictly instrumental, Johnny A. has quickly joined the rarified ranks of players like Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell, and Carlos Santana, as far as being recognizable from the first note. He has created a unique voice through a mix of idiosyncratic arrangements, running his Marshall heads direct, and ultimately designing his own guitar (with the Custom Shop crew at Gibson).

A number of those guitars are displayed and played on the DVD One November Night, along with the passionate but controlled picking of this former Peter Wolf sideman. Bassist Jesse Bastos and drummer Chris Farr demonstrate how a well-rehearsed, supportive rhythm section adds much to the show. And a show it is; despite being welded to his stool, and the absence of computerized lighting or smoke effects, A. demonstrates that superb playing, great tone, and thoughtful pacing are enough to keep an audience’s interest. Sure it is his hometown crowd, but the intimate club performance leaps off the screen, putting you right in the front row at Boston’s Scullers Jazz Club.

The package features a DVD and a CD. All but one of the DVD’s tunes—a version of “Walk Away Renee” played in the great outdoors - is offered on the CD. Four of the tunes on the CD are replaced on the DVD by short interview segments largely devoted to general biographical information rather than gear or performance talk. Still, players will not be disappointed; the sound is excellent and the camera angles amply reveal both left hand and right hand techniques providing an unexpected Johnny A. lesson.

Even more unusual than a distinctive sound, is an instrumental guitarist whose appeal extends beyond other guitarists. Johnny A.’s magic crosses over because, like Frisell, he doesn’t just play guitar - he plays music. - MR

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