In all of rock-n-roll, there is one singular instrument that stands among all others as the genre’s driving force – the guitar. While there have been many innovators over the years, it all started somewhere. Though he may not have invented his instrument, it is Lonnie Johnson that is credited by historians as being the first person to record a single note guitar solo. Yet, for years, this distinction has gone relatively unrecognized, a fact that Range Records hopes to change with the release of Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson, an album recorded by a talented cast of musicians, nearly all with roots in the Philadelphia music scene where Johnson spent the majority of his life.
The members of Blues Anatomy serve as the house band on the majority of the tracks, joined by lead guitarist, Jef Lee Johnson, a semi-reclusive legend among musicians around the world. Jef’s work is electrifying, doing justice to the tracks that Lonnie laid down so many years ago. In addition to this core ensemble, Joe Mass composed a slide guitar composition specifically for the album (“Ben Franklin Hotel Blues”), while Geoff Muldaur lends his Lonnie-inspired magic to the blues classic "He’s A Jelly Roll Baker".
With the exception of the “Ben Franklin” tribute track, all of the songs on the album were either composed by or recorded by Lonnie, whose credits included performing in the big band of Duke Ellington as well as soloing with legendary Louis Armstrong. A singer, composer, and true innovator, Lonnie Johnson was a pioneer of American blues music. With the release of Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson, Range Records hopes to cement his reputation as one of a small handful of artists that permanently altered and enriched
Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson is out now on Range Records.