Julie Johnson: “Arrest”
Reviewed by Emily Sapa (Upper Midwest Flute Association)
If you’re ready for a change of pace in your listening library, Twin Cities flutist Julie Johnson has just released an album for you. A mix of classical gems and new takes on popular idioms, “Arrest” is sure to have something interesting and unusual for every ear.
The unifying idea encompassing this eclectic mix of pieces is their roots in folk-music traditions from around the world. Johnson puts Western classical music (Reichert’s Souvenir du Para) next to tunes based on jazz (Heath’s Coltrane), blues (Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”) and folk (Johnson’s original work The Removed). In addition to getting a sense of an extended span of musical possibilities for the flute, I came away from this album with a clear idea of both the wide range of Johnson’s stylistic abilities and her passion for music from all corners of life. In the end, this very personal thread is what holds the album together and draws in the listener.
Throughout the disc, Johnson showcases a flute sound that is full of soul and intensity and she’s not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve in service to the music. To bring out the rougher, more emotional side of the pieces, Johnson treats melodies with an improvisatory rhythmic flexibility and colors her sound with pitch bends and blues notes. This gives familiar pieces like Villa-Lobos Assobio a játo and newer works like Caliendo’s Sinceritá a feeling of spontaneity and vitality that would be equally at home on a busy street corner or crowded café.
Johnson is ably assist by many fine Twin Cities musicians. In addition to familiar combinations of flute with piano, guitar and cello, respectively, we are also treated to a blues band and an unusual, very fun trio of flute, accordion and bass on Piazzolla’s Lunfardo.
This album was created with care and deep feeling for the music; it gives the listener a special window into the heart of the performers and Johnson’s fervent devotion to sharing music that speaks to the soul.
Julie Johnson: “Arrest”
Reviewed by Tammy Reese at Rift Magazine (http://www.riftmagazine.com/?p=444)
A magnificent blend of solo flute and orchestral music designed to suite any musical taste, Julie Johnson is quite the accomplished musician with a slew of professional experience under her belt. “Arrest” is the first solo album for this fluting dynamo and a very interesting collection of original composition pieces that have a flair all their own. Johnson mixes contemporary and classical styles into a fine frenzy of idiosyncratic masterpieces.
Johnson explores the intricacies of the flute in an array of whimsical tracks that are sure to be a sweet and audible treat for any listener. Despite the lovely melodies of Johnson’s instrument, the first track of “Arrest” is enough to make listeners wonder if they did indeed put in the correct CD into their IPod or CD player. A man’s voice floods through the speakers to reveal a song that is both hideous and unbearable. Not to worry with just one click to the next song all becomes well and the sensory experience can once more commence.
“The Removed” is a dream-like ode that is calm, sincere and reflective. Each song on the album is organic, genius and intriguing, yet leaves one feeling as though they have experienced a variety of styles of music on one album. “Souvenir du Para” is an uplifting track that sounds similar to “Moonlight Sonata” and reminds me of new age Irish-born vocalist, Enya. “Asobio a jato,” the eighth track is delicate duet between cello and flute, an endearing song that is fun and full of soul.
Johnson is a talent that is sure to become a greater artist than she already has become, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to hear more of her very soon. Her multitude of awards, mixed with an overall talent for shattering perceptions of what is classical music can be heard in “Arrest” along with a passion for playing the flute and the extraordinary ability to share her talent and love of music with others.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL FLUTE MUSIC
By Ross Raihala (Pop Music Critic for Pioneer Press)
Local flutist Julie Johnson marks the release of her new CD, “Arrest,” with a free Saturday gig at the new MacPhail Center for Music in downtown Minneapolis. Johnson grew up near the Canadian border and began playing flute at age 10. In addition to performing with orchestras in Minnesota, Texas and Italy, she has sat in with blues and jazz groups. That cross-genre pollination is obvious on “Arrest,” which she recorded with members of Jelloslave, the Fantastic Merlins, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet and a handful of other local musicians.
Pop Music Critic Ross Raihala can be reached at rraihala@ pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5553. Read more about the local music scene on his blog, “The Ross Who Knew Too Much,” at blogs.twincities.com/ross.