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 ownand has produced a thoroughly enjoyable solo acoustic guitar set, sans anyoverdubs. 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 quitestartling 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 sumptuouslyrecorded. "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, andswinging. 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 forairplay. The centerpiece of the CD for me is the kaleidoscopic "My Secret" , akind of suite in three distinct sections, tied together with percussive effects. The final section features Johnson's voice and strumming techniquealong 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 andall have their strengths and weaknesses. What separates this particular CD frommany 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 goodnews 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.