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Album Review: Something About the Moon
Matt Johnson
Cover image of the album Something About the Moon by Matt Johnson
Something About the Moon
Matt Johnson
1988 / Dolce & Nuit Productions
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Something About the Moon is the second album by pianist/composer Matt Johnson. Originally released in 1989, six of the eight original compositions are arranged for piano and ensemble and two are solo piano. Composed in a variety of styles from light jazz to classical to new age and pop instrumental, there is something for just about anybody on this recording. A classically-trained pianist from the age of six, Johnson received his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Oklahoma Baptist University and his Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music in Jazz Studies and Composition with a Distinction in Performance. Also a teacher and church musician, the wide variety of influences on Johnson’s music gives him a unique and distinctive musical voice. Although it has been about 31 years since Something About the Moon was released, the music has stood the test of time and still sounds fresh and inviting.

The album begins with “Katja,” a piece dedicated to Johnson’s wife. It opens with a sax solo that segues to an elegant piano solo before becoming an ensemble piece for piano, sax, drums, electric bass and flute. Sometimes soulful and sometimes upbeat and playful, it’s a great opener! “Rainy Day Comfort” is a favorite. Beginning with the sound of rain and thunder, it is otherwise a piano solo. Dreamy and more than a little bit wistful, it is easy to imagine staring at the rain with this gorgeous piece playing in the background - a perfect accompaniment to being lost in thought. “Serenade” is also a favorite. The beautiful piano melody overflows with emotion and is supported by cello, guitar, flutes and drums. Not overly complicated and rather slow, the passion of all of the instrumentalists makes this piece a real stand-out. Love it! “A Little Gem” is a jazzy trio for piano, drums and electric bass. Joyously upbeat and optimistic, this one will have your toes tapping in no time! The title track begins with a very free solo piano intro that sets a mysterious tone before the drums enter with a steadier rhythm. At just under nine minutes, several different themes are interwoven in what could be considered a multi-movement work that is played without pausing between sections. At about the mid-point of the piece, both musicians pull out all the stops and “let ‘er rip” before returning to a much softer and gentler tone, rebuilding the power, and then trailing off at the end. I really like this one, too! “Chatham” picks up the tempo for a jazzy ensemble piece for piano, sax, drums, electric bass, drums and percussion. Bright with a driving beat, this one is full of exuberant fun. “Our Song” is a jaunty little piano solo that grins from ear to ear as it expresses the bliss of being with someone you love and walking on air. The soulful “Longing For Yesterday,” a duet for piano and sax, is pretty much the opposite mood of “Our Song.” Dark and melancholy, it brings the album to a quiet, moody close.

Something About the Moon is available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby, but it is also available as a free download from MattJohnsonMusic.com. The sheet music for all of the pieces is also available as a free download on Johnson’s site.
April 16, 2019
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