Norman Johnson is a really good jazz guitarist who shows off his skills and talent on his forthcoming album, If Time Stood Still (Pacific Coast Jazz). The only problem I had with it is that I felt it ran out of steam too soon.
The album is a mixture of polished jazz skill and smooth jazz, with an emphasis on the smooth. Johnson has a healthy band backing him, and when Johnson plays there is a brilliance that works superbly, especially in “It’s Time To Fly”, “Acoustic Groove”, and the Pat Metheny song “Always And Forever”. The first song, “It’s Time To Fly”, would have worked as an appripriate album enter, with the kind of power that shows unity between him and his band. I would not be surprised if a hip-hop producer used the song and sampled it for the next generation’s summer jam.
Unfortunately, by the time the album reached songs 4, 5 & 6, I wasn’t sure if my CD player was on repeat or of Johnson and his band had just given up. It seems they finally reached cruise control and simply gave up trying, and it’s sad considering how good the first three songs are. I know record labels will often tell artists “when you send us your demo album, make sure your best songs are the first three”. The best three songs on the album are the first three, and if they were able to create more songs like them, or elevate themselves to take some level of risk, I would’ve enjoyed it.
Johnson and the group indeed …Stood Still with this album and didn’t bother to move forward. On the good side, it does work as the perfect soundtrack for a romantic mood, and is sure to gain some attention on smooth jazz radio. As far as something I would listen to repeatedly, it’s not for me unless there were other songs that balanced things out better.