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47th Annual Grammy Awards ....Feb. 13, 2005.

Wayne Johnson, along with other label mates on Solid Air Records won the coveted Grammy award at this years awards presentation for "Pop Instrumental Album of the Year". The recording, "Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar" produced by James Jensen is a tribute to Mancini with all acoustic solo guitar renditions of many of his classic songs.


Jazziz Magazine-March Issue, 2004
Gone Acoustic
By Bill Milkowski

Acoustic Guitar Albums to have:

Gene Bertoncini-Acoustic Romance (Sons of Sound, 2003)
Wayne Johnson-One Guitar (Solid Air, 2003)
Ken Hatfield-The Surrealist Table (Arthur Circle Music, 2003)
Fred Fried-When Winter Comse (Ballet Tree, 2003)
Paco de Lucia-Cositas Buenos (Blue Thumb, 2003)
John McLaughlin-Thieves and Poets (Verve, 2003)
Pat Metheny-One Quiet Night (Warner Bros. 2003)
Al DiMeola-Winter Nights (Telarc, 1999)
Kevin Eubanks-World Trio (Intuition, 1997)
Earl Klugh-The Best of Earl Klugh, Vol. 1 (Blue Note, 1991)
Fareed Haque-Opaque (Blue Note, 1995)
John Abercrombie-Characters (ECM, 1977)
Bill Connors-Swimming with a Hole in My Body (ECM, 1979)
Steve Khan-Evidence (RCA/Novus, 1980)
Larry Carlton-Alone/But Never Alone (MCA, 1986)
Joe Pass-Unforgettable (Pablo/Fantasy, 1992)
John Scofield-Quiet (Verve, 1996)
Bill Frisell-Ghost Town (Nonesuch, 2000)
Larry Coryell-Twelve Frets to One Octave (Shanachle, 1991)

Wayne Johnson came to the acoustic guitar after a string of adventurous electric guitar recordings for Mojazz through the ‘80’s. A long-time sideman for Manhattan Transfer, Johnson steps out in revealing fashion on his new solo acoustic CD, One Guitar (Solid Air Records.) A follow-up to his 1996 solo acoustic project Kindred Spirits, this intimate offering features some of the unorthodox percussive effects and classical-guitar techniques that Johnson has been exploring during the past few years. “I’ve been working to get it at this particular level for quite some time,” he explains, “so it doesn’t feel like I just stepped out onto this platform. But in terms of what is actually on the record, it does feel that way. It’s pretty much a radical departure for me.

While he still tours with Manhattan Transfer and is featured playing acoustic guitar on two tracks from the group’s recent live recording, Couldn’t Be Hotter (Telarc), Johnson still spends a lot of time in the woodshed with his nylon string. “I still play electric guitar,” he says. “I still play all the studio sessions where I do everything from the bebop thing to the jazz thing to the Van Halen thing and all that, but I never practice it. All I ever practice is fingerstyle nylon-string guitar. I’m not too concerned about the electric techniques anymore.”

Johnson’s prized acoustic guitar is a one-of-a-kind nylon string made by Toronto luthier William Laskin. For roadwork he carries a Taylor acoustic guitar. Both instruments, he says, provide him with an immediate and direct response that he doesn’t get from an electric guitar. “There’s a oneness that absolutely comes to me in the acoustic when I pick it up, and it’s different than the electric. I mean, I love the electric guitar and I have a lot of really great old electrics-a couple of Gibson 175’s and 335’s, as well as an Eddie Van Halen prototype solid body that I love. But I don’t get the same feeling of oneness from holding those instruments as I do with the acoustics. I can get my favorite tones out of the electric, but there’s so much processing that it’s not nearly as direct or as consistent as the acoustic thing. If you have a really good acoustic guitar, you just pick it up and it’s there every time. And I really like that.”


Wayne Johnson "One Guitar", Solid Air SACD 2040, 2003

Those familiar with the name Wayne Johnson will know it through the Manhattan Transfer or maybe the Trio group the artist initiated in the early 80’s, but most recently Johnson has created a new solo acoustic guitar album which displays the culmination of years of improvisational practice and learning. By utilizing a funky jazz-blues medium and a silkiness that is unique to the nylon string guitar, Johnson fashions for his listener a new set of sounds, textures, and percussive possibilities. I say percussive possibilities because there seems little in the way of describing the ingenuity at work when Johnson "hits" the guitar. He describes these very hits in terms of contrapuntal movement rather than just artistic ornamentation. Without any use of overdubbing, the assemblage of percussive taps, rolls, and thumps creates a concert-like environment whereby the musical "event" lies somewhere in between melody and percussion. On "Firefly", a seemingly simple harmonic progression becomes the medium in which just this type of interplay between melody and percussion takes center stage. In addition to the explosive performance evidenced on many of the tracks, Johnson’s musical interests are also quite keen on articulating quietude and softness, qualities for which the guitar is no stranger. The long drawn-out phrases and solid melody on "Baby" make for a wonderful opportunity to highlight how graceful a ballad can really be! In addition to original compositions there are also standards. Inspired by Ray Charles’ version, Johnson restores "America the Beautiful" to its rightful place as a classic in the American lexicon. Most impressive is how finished and well crafted the entire CD turns out to be while at the same time remaining faithful to its overall sound and improvisational format. In what we hope will mark the beginning in a long succession of solo acoustic guitar music to come, Johnson’s daringness and creativity on the fingerboard is explosive and should not go unnoticed.
© Bernard Richter

Bridge Guitar Reviews Wayne Johnson One Guitar Solid Air Records 2003

This acoustic guitarist is mainly known by his appearance by the Manhattan Transfer group, which had a lot of success in the early 80's. Wayne Johnson now has a solo acoustic guitar album out called One Guitar. His influences come from jazz and blues music, but you hardly can compare him with one, as Wayne does his own thing. Wayne plays classic and flamenco guitars. Firefly is the first track and has fantastic percussive elements and a challenging melody line with a first-class repeating pattern on which he improvises a lot in Bossa Nova style. Baby an interesting ballad which represents a lot of tranquillity. My Secret is a top-notch piece on which he improvises with percussivemelodic and harmonic phrases on a Spanish orientated sound palette, but switches in a wink to excellent finger style play. American Medley is an ode to Ray Charles his version of American the Beautiful. Father and Son a very moody ballad played with great fantasy on a skilled melody line, which is intimate, a dedication for his passed away father. For Sodie's Sake a grooving piece played with flowing techniques in a jazzy way full of richmelody line building attainments. One Guitar is an unpredictable album as Wayne Johnson has the ability to fully absorb a listener in solid playing techniques, like structure, balance, rhythm and a unique approach to melody line building and swing.Seldom heard an album which so much variety and creativity, wow !

Henk te Veldhuis


Featured Artist: Wayne Johnson
CD Title: One Guitar
Sept. 2003
Record Label: Solid Air Records
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Musician(s): Wayne Johnson (guitar)

Review: Wayne Johnson is the guitarist for the touring band which accompanies the acclaimed vocal group Manhattan Transfer. With this CD he steps out on his own and has produced a thoroughly enjoyable solo acoustic guitar set, sans any overdubs. Displaying monster chops, taste, and a melodic, fluid style, he makes this CD stand out among the recent solo guitar releases as something which is truly unique. Employing a percussive technique which is actually quite startling when heard for the first time, along with his voice on one cut, Johnson literally sounds like his own accompanist. His playing has an upbeat, sunny sort of feel to it, giving the entire set a positive, optimistic spin.

There are numerous highlights on the disc, which has been sumptuously recorded. “Firefly” is a great opener, making use of the percussive effects, as well as having a catchy theme. There is a clever reworking of the standard “Tennessee Waltz”, turning this ageless tune into something new, fresh, and swinging. Several ballads are featured, among them the beautiful “Baby”, and a gorgeous Fred Hersch tune “Valentine”. “For Sodie’s Sake’ is a snappy, irresistible tune, with an undeniably catchy hook and which seems destined for airplay. The centerpiece of the CD for me is the kaleidoscopic “My Secret”, a kind of suite in three distinct sections, tied together with percussive effects. The final section features Johnson’s voice and strumming technique along with a killer melodic line which just seems to carry the listener away.

I’ve come across numerous solo guitar recordings in the past few years and all have their strengths and weaknesses. What separates this particular CD from many others is the quality of the writing, and the overall positive vibe I came away with after listening to this music. There is no doubt that Johnson stylistically can cover all the bases and possesses tons of technique. The good news is that he doesn’t flaunt that fact (as many guitarists do) and as a result the compositions themselves take center stage, as well they should. A stunning solo debut, highly recommended.

Tracks: Firefly, Baby, My Secret, America Medley, Father and Son, Like the Pieces of Driftwood, Rise, Tennessee Waltz, For Sodie’s Sake, Valentine.

Reviewed by: Rick Dobrydney