Christmas in Hollywood
Jazz aficionados know him by name, but almost anyone exposed to music is familiar with his playing. His is the purring sax solo on Henry Mancini's famous 'Pink Panther' movie theme song. Plas is the featured soloist heard on countless albums including those of such artists as Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt and Sarah Vaughan. Plas was born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, about 60 miles north of New Orleans. As teens, Plas and brother Ray formed a band, the Johnson Brothers Combo, that played in and around New Orleans for a number of years. Plas left New Orleans in 1951 to go on the road with the Charles Brown Blues Band. The road, a stint in the Army and a permanent move to California followed. Plas attended the Westlake School of Music for over a year; then his studies were derailed by an overloaded schedule of record dates. He was brought to the attention of Johnny Otis, who immediately added him to his blues aggregation. Johnny then introduced Plas to Dave Cavanaugh, who held an influential A&R position at Capitol Records, where he soon became a regular session sideman and soloist during Capitol's halcyon years. Plas has been one of the most well known and sought- after musicians around the California studio scene. He joined 'The Merv Griffin Show' band in 1970, where he remained for the next fifteen years, joining an all-star lineup, which also included such prominent instrumentalists as Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Jake Hanna, Benny Powell, Jack Sheldon, Kai Winding and others. Plas' recent recordings include his own albums, 'Christmas in Hollywood', 'Evening Delight', and 'hot, blue & saxy', and a Milestone recording with Red Holloway, 'Keep That Groove Going!' You may also find him around town occasionally with his own group, at jazz festivals all over the world, and in the recording studios. Plas Johnson combines some of the best elements of jazz and blues and is admired and emulated by sax players worldwide. 'Christmas in Hollywood' with Special Guest Ernie Andrews The stockings are hung over the Hi-Fi with care. The palm trees are swaying to a bluesy beat. And as for Santa... he's got a whole new bag. It's Christmas in Hollywood, baby! And there's no better way to enjoy it than with the ultra cool tracks on the newest CD by legendary saxman Plas Johnson. One for each of the twelve days of Christmas, and each a very special gift to you from Plas... SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN - A fresh take on an old favorite, played in a funky jazz vein, a la 'Killer Joe.' CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE - first heard in the Peanuts Christmas feature. This tune is given a smoky ballad treatment with the tenor sax, and features the guitar of Anthony Wilson. SLEIGH RIDE - This standard really moves with a nice dance beat. Plas is featured on baritone sax, alongside Tony Wilson in the great Blue Note style. Willie McNeil, a talented and versatile percussionist, provides the beat. Joey Altruda did the Latin jazz arrangement on this tune, as well as the rest not credited to others. WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR'S EVE? - The groovy vocal styling of Ernie Andrews adds a fresh sound to an old chestnut. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER - Steve Solomon rearranged this one in a totally different vein, splitting it into a ballad tempo for the first part, and finishing with a burnin' bop beat. MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY - The Charles Brown blues classic is given a hardboiled blues rendering by one of the best of all time, the great Ernie Andrews. Horns arranged by Plas Johnson. THE CHRISTMAS SONG - Mel Torme's timeless ode to Christmas has been reinterpreted and harmonized by Steve Solomon, who is also featured on the Hammond B-3 for this perennial favorite. DINGLE DONGS - This Plas Johnson bebop original is a welcome change of pace to this non-traditional repertoire. I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS - Ernie Andrews gives a heartfelt performance of this nostalgic World War II classic. BE BOP CARROLL - Written by Tadd Dameron in the 1940s, this tune is recorded for the first time since Fats Navarro's original Savoy sessions. (HOW CAN I FACE) WINTERTIME ALONE - An honest, introspective ballad, penned by Joey Altruda, is presented here for the first time - a fitting supplement to this collection. SILVER BELLS - The closing number for the program features Red Young on piano and Hammond organ, providing a thick gospel-like treatment behind Johnson's wailing tenor. Two tracks from 'Christmas in Hollywood' have already been chosen by KKJZ-FM, a station heard worldwide via cable, satellite and the Internet, to be included in their 'For Members Only' Jazz and Blues Christmas Album, being released in November 2000. Several tracks were played frequently during their October pledge drive, and more will be heard when they start playing holiday music. In addition, Carell Music has mailed the record to over 300 radio stations nationwide. Plas Johnson has forged an illustrious career in recorded music for over 45 years, especially in Hollywood. An artistic chameleon with a distinctive sound, he's able to adapt to any type of music. Plas' musical fingerprints can be found on the recordings of Nat King Cole, Henry Mancini, Les Baxter, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt, Bette Midler, and dozens of others. Combining some of the best elements of jazz and blues, Plas' playing is admired and emulated by sax players worldwide. In 2000, Plas toured Thailand, at the request of His Majesty the King, Adunyadet Phumiphon, and played a private party at the King's summer compound. Plas also played at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with Herman Riley. One of the tunes in their set was included in a compilation CD produced by radio station WWOZ. Plas' previous CD, 'Evening Delight' (Carell Music CM103-CD) was released in January 2000, to great reviews. Ernie Andrews, the venerable balladeer and blues shouter lends his unique style to 3 tracks. Ernie sang with Harry James' band for a number of years before joining Cannonball Adderley. He has appeared and/or recorded with Louie Bellson, Teddy Edwards, Kenny Burrell, Harry 'Sweets' Edison, 'Big' Joe Turner, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, and many others. During his long career, he has toured the world, playing to some of the largest audiences and concert halls from Las Vegas to Australia and South America. Ernie can be found regularly playing in jazz clubs all over Los Angeles, and he recently returned from a club date and recording session in New York.
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