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Album Review: End of a Day
Matt Johnson
Cover image of the album End of a Day by Matt Johnson
End of a Day
Matt Johnson
1995 / Dolce & Nuit Productions
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
End of a Day is a piano and ensemble album of thirteen original pieces by Matt Johnson that he dedicated to his son, Luke. More than twenty performers added their talents to the music, including a Boston Symphony string section. The music is varied in mood and styling from slow ballads to smooth jazz, Latin jazz, new age and more. Johnson performs on piano, keyboards, percussion and handbells, and additional instrumentation includes flutes, brass, sax, vocals, vibes, bass and guitars.

Matt Johnson is a classically-trained pianist who earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Oklahoma Baptist University and his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Composition with a Distinction in Performance from New England Conservatory of Music. A prolific composer and performer as well as a sought-after teacher, Johnson has performed extensively in venues from Boston to Brazil. His music is a neo-romantic blending of contemporary jazz, new age, popular and classical elements that give his music a very distinctive sound.

End of a Day begins with “Attack of the Killer Bunnies,” an intriguing title, indeed! The piece starts out as a slow sax and piano duet reminiscent of film noir music, but don’t let the intro fool you! At about the 1-minute mark, it becomes a lively jazz piece with a playful and infectious Latin beat that will have your toes tapping in no time! “Luke’s Theme” is the first piece Matt composed after Luke was born. Slow and dreamy, I’m sure it was an effective lullaby for both father and son! “Well, My Heart’s So Sad” is a favorite. Piano and strings paint a poignant, melancholy picture in shades of deep blue and gray. “Stereo Kisses” feels very much like a warm, lingering hug with piano, sax, cello and bass illustrating what you get when a baby is held between mommy and daddy while receiving lots of kisses on each cheek. The repeated piano pattern suggests comfort and safety as well as unwavering parental love. “BOO!” cranks up the energy level with a lively Latin rhythm swirling around trumpets, saxes and flutes. I’ll bet you can’t listen to this one all the way through without cracking a smile! The title track is a beautiful nocturne inspired by the special time shared while putting Luke to bed - another favorite. I also really like “Shadows On the Wall,” a slow, uncomplicated piano solo with classical roots. “Fairy Tales” is an enchanting slow dance guaranteed to soothe a soul of any age. “Kiss Away the Hurt” brings the album to a close with a tender piano/vocal/sax song inspired by rocking a child with a hurt knee to sleep while humming this lovely tune.

Although End of a Day was recorded twenty-four years ago, the music is timeless and just as interesting today as it was when it was first “born.” The album and companion sheet music are available from FOR FREE from www.MattJohnsonMusic.com. The music can be purchased from iTunes, CD Baby and there are a couple of used copies on Amazon.
March 14, 2019
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