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Rhythm & Blues Saxophone: The Masters-Part 2: Plas Johnson

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Plas Johnson is one of my favorite rhythm and blues saxophonists. A native of Donaldsonville, Louisiana, he was one of the busiest horn players in Los Angeles during the height of the studio scene of the 1960’s through the 1990’s. His biggest claim to fame inarguably is his featured tenor saxophone solo on Henry Mancini’s hit The Pink Panther Theme.

Do not sell Plas short as this was only one of the many successes he enjoyed over a veryl ong, active recording career. He was well known for his work with legendary Los Angeles session musicians The Wrecking Crew.

Plas' solo recordings include his own albums, "Hot, Blue & Saxy," "Evening Delight" and "Christmas in Hollywood," and "Keep That Groove Going!" on Milestone Records, with fellow grits and gravy tenor saxman Red Holloway. Plas Johnson combines some of the best elements of jazz and blues and is admired and emulated by sax players worldwide.

I am including here a transcription of Red Jacket which features a very young Plas circa 1957 showing off his blues chops and earthy tenor sax tone. There is much to admire here and plenty to glean from this short solo over the typical 12 bar blues form. Be sure notice how full and fat his tenor saxophone sounds on this recording.

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You can hear Red Jacket here on Youtube:

Be sure to seek out Plas Johnson’s recordings and listen carefully to his phrasing and tone. A master musician and an icon, his long career speaks volumes as to the stylistic perfection he applied to many a recording in the hey day of rock and rhythm and blues.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.....Markos

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