RECORD REVIEWS - DOWN THROUGH THE DECADES

Submitted by johnnycase on Sat, 02/13/2021 - 11:35am

Reviews of vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs and CDRs issued by John Case from 1969 to 2021. The reviews appear in no particular order, chronological or otherwise. 

 

Five Reviews of JAZZ POTPOURRI:

JAZZ POPOURRI by John & Jerry Case - Priority Records PRS-406  Vinyl LP issued 1978

Nuages / Empathy / Amends / Waltz for Debby / Excursion / High Stakes / Soul Searchin'.

JERRY CASE, 7-string guitar; MAURICE ANDERSON, pedal steel guitar, JOHN CASE, piano; JIM PERKINS, acoustic bass; BILL WALKER, drums.

Note: Nuages, Waltz for Debby and Sould Searchin' are unacconpanied guitar performaces by Jerry Case. All selections recorded June 22, 1977 at A T P Studios, Fort Worth, Texas.

 

Preliminary Review in Jazz Forum Magazine - Issue 55, International Edition 1978

"This album, with its unassuming title, is a real surprise.. The seven solid, swinging numbers are played with verve and skill. Although little known to the world at large, the Case Brothers and their crew sound like a vital  addition to the contemporary mainstream. The inclusion of Django Reinhardt's Nuages suggests where guitarist Jerry Case is coming from. Anderson's work on the pedal steel guitar, an instrument usually associated with country music, makes one wonder why few people have ever explored its jazz possibilities before."

 

Review by Carl Brauer in Jazz Forum Magazine - Issue 58, International Edition 1978

"To a large extent, musician-owned record labels are dominated by the more avant-garde styles. But there are exceptions. One of these is Priority Records, operated by John & Jerry Case out of Ft. Worth, Texas. What the Case brothers play is a relaxed, laid-back yet very swinging brand of jazz with a pinch of country music for flavoring. This, their latest recording, serves up a variety of settings and moods in a jam session-type atmosphere, hence the title.

Particularly memorable are Nuages, Waltz for Debby and Soul Searchin', three solo guitar performances by Jerry Case. He brings to each piece first-rate technique coupled with a keen harmonic sense such that his approach has an original stamp to it. At a time when the jazz world seems blessed with many highly talented guitarists covering the whole spectrum of musical styles, it would be unfortunate if a musician as singularly talented as Jerry Case was overlooked.

The remaining four cuts are originals featuring the complete quintet, with each number allowing everyone ample space to show his chops. Empathy might have profited from some judicious editing as it carries on longer than its substance warrants. Just the opposite problem hampers High Stakes. Following a short Bill Walker drum solo, the piece abruptly ends leaving the listener hanging. One other minor quibble: With nearly fifty minutes of music on the two sides, the recording level has been lowered to the extent that both the bass and drums are not nearly as up front as the piano and guitars."

 

​Review by Bob Rusch in Cadence Magazine - May 1978,  page 28

"The Case Brothers have a new release "Jazz Potpourri" (PRS-406) on their Priority label. I'm not sure when this was recorded. I'm not sure since my copy has only a front cover design and no back liners or information whatsoever - curious? This is the John and Jerry Case's seventh (Cadence Sept '76, p. 11 & 13) and to my ears, their best. The record opens very strongly with Django's "Nuages", a beautiful solo statement by Jerry Case's guitar. Two originals follow, "Empathy" and "Amends" and bring together the whole group with John Case's piano, Maurice Anderson's steel guitar, Jim Perkin's bass and Bill Walker's drums. "Empathy" is a lengthy piece which swings along at a brisk walking tempo, featuring fine solos by the Cases, Anderson and Perkins. It is interesting to hear John Case's work quite adventurous within the bop figures. Side One closes with Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby" again a solo for Jerry's guitar, a great show of of lyric beauty and sense of thought and structure. Jerry Case is certainly one of the best bop guitarists around and he continues to prove it on side two which opens in strong fashion with "Excursion" one of three originals that make up the side. As fine as Jerry's playing is, one should not overlook the very fine and unusual jazz work of Maurice Anderson's steel guitar. The steel guitar is an instrument usually found in country or Hawaiian music. Anderson makes it feel equally at home in jazz. "Jazz Potpourri" closes with "Soul Searchin'", the third Jerry Case solo effort. He is a bitch of a guitarist and this is a bitch of a record - guitarists will especially dig this."

 

Capsule Review by Randy Savicky from on the record: in JAZZ Magazine - Spring Issue 1979,  page 67

"surprisingly sympathetic acoustic vignettes with an unusual duet out front - 7-string and steel guitars."

 

Capsule review in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine - September 1978. 

Note: Featured artist listed is the pianist. 

"Some nice, laid-back mainstream jazz with Case on piano in a group that also includes guitar and steel guitar as well as bass and drums. Guitarist Jerry Case's three unacconpanied selections are the high point of the album."

 

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Tom Bingham reviews the first four LPs issued by John Case -  "LITTLE LABELS" article (re: "Jazz in the South" and "Dawn Records") published 1975 in the WIUS TIPSHEET, a periodical for Indiana State University's public broadcast station.

"JAZZ IN THE SOUTH - When you hear about Southern music, it's natural to think of rock 'n' roll, blues, country, bluegrass. Jazz, on the other hand, ia considered a more cosmopolitan style of expression. Nevertheless, jazz was originally a Southern creation, the fusion of black folk and popular music (blues, ragtime, etc.) with white popular and march structures.

Though historians now downplay the "born in New Orleans" theory, (Louisville and St. Louis appear to be key cities in jazz' development as well), it is equally true that New Orleans style, both authentic (King Oliver, Freddie Keppard) and diluted (Original Dixieland Jazz Band) was by far the dominant form in the music's early history. Through Louis Armstrong's expansion of the soloist's role, New Orleans jazz was to set the stage, directly or indirectly, for virtually all forms of the music to follow.

By the 20's, though, jazz had moved out of the South and into the city ghettos. For the last 50 years and more, the key centers have been (at various times) in the East (New York, Philadelphia), midwest (Chicago, Kansas City), and West (Los Angeles). However, major contributors continued to move to these centers from the South, often adding freer, bluesier touches to the music of more self-conscious Northern bands. Many of the greatest swing era musicians were born in the South. Though space limitations preclude an adequate delineation of their talents, a Southern swing "Who's Who" would include the names Cat Anderson, Herschel Evans, Freddy green, Jimmy Hamilton, Lionel Hampton, Fletcher Henderson, Budd Johnson, Gus Johnson, Frankie Newton, Hot Lips Page, Gene Ramey, Buddy Tate, Dickie Wells, Cootie Williams, Teddy Wilson, and many more.

Much of the transition from swing to bop was foreshadowed by Lester Young and Charlie Christian. Bop itself has had several significant Southern pioneers and popularizers, including Dizzy Gillespie, himself, plus Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham, James Moody, and the Adderley Brothers. Even the vapid "cool" 50's, jazz' darkest hours, were enlivened by the contributions of Red Callender, Gerald Wilson, Jimmy Giuffre, and guitarists Johnny Smith, Mundell Lowe, and Tal Farlow.

The 60's were significant for many reasons, not the least of which was the influx of many Southern saxophonists who woodshedded in R&B bands, and kept the R&B tone and emotion in their music - Texas Ornette Coleman, Pharoah Sanders from Little Rock, and Charles Lloyd, who played with B.B. King and Bobby Bland in Memphis. (Archie Shepp and John Coltrane were also born in the South, but grew up in the North.) Even the urban spaceman, Sun Ra, comes from Alabama, while two of his key soloists, Joh Gilmore and Marshall Allen are from Mississippi and Kentucky, respectively.

The tragedy of this extremely incomplete roll-call is that every one of these brilliant musicians had to go up North to establish his reputation. Except for the leftover traditionalists in New Orleans and a couple of enclaves in Texas, the jazz scene in today's South is either nonexistant or so commercially blanched to meet the tastes of the more "sophisticated" dilettante as to be musically worthless.Once in a while, a Ronnie Kole will record for an independent Southern label, but even these musicians play watered-down pop-jazz. Southern jazzmen must either move up North (or West) or provide their own breaks by setting up private record companies to try to disseminate their work.

DAWN RECORDS - Not many have tried the latter route, but two who did are Texan pianist John Case and his guitarist brother Jerry. To date, the Cases have issued four albums on as many labels (same address, though) and in a variety of styles.

The most atypical of the four is a John Case album called Vibra-Dream Currents (on the RPC custom label, SLP-TWO), a set of unaccompanied vibes solos (plus a token piano track). The side-long "Vibra-Sleep Currents" begins as a collection of arpeggios and scales, but develops into a lively, cosmic dance of complex phrases, rhythms, overtones and glissandos. Side two is rather redundant, offering more of the same in six short tracks.

More representative is John and Jerry Case's Pleasant Dreams (Dawn DSLP-401). John Case has evolved a recognizable piano style, with full left-hand chords, a melodic right hand which lags slightly behind the beat, and a firm touch which lets you know he means every note. Jerry Case is a first-rate jazz guitarist with a taut yet clean sound, original solo ideas, and a unique usage chords. He owes as much to Grant Green as he does to Johnny Smith. Side one has two tracks, the restrained minor-key "Strange Dream" and the more boppish "Summons". Side two is a five-cut trio session (with Jerry switching to bass), with John Case at his very best.

Without question, the most "Southern" of the Case-produced albums is the Maurice Anderson-Tom Morrell Sextet Session (on the Mail-Order label, SLP-1). Anderson and Morrell are true rarities - jazz steel guitarists. Western Swing bands have shown in the past that the steel guitar is an excellent improvisational instrument, with its varied tone colors, unique methods of chording, swooping notes, and the like. Anderson seems more at home with the subtly swinging mainstream jazz of the four tracks (all standards) than Morrell, but both bring a refreshing country-influenced dimension to jazz.

The best of the Case albums is John and Jerry's Contrasts In Jazz (Priority PRS-402), which combines the styles of the above two albums. "Fire", which consumes side one, is from the 1970 Pleasant Dreams session, with a long, continuously inventive piano solo by John, and a cooker of a guitar solo by Jerry.  Maurice Anderson triumphantly returns for side two's "Full Moon" (recorded in '74), which demonstrates even greater maturity in both John and Jerry's work.

These records raise a very important question. How many other talented, creative, yet totally unknown jazz musicians are hidden away in the South, unable to record and distribute their own music? Perhaps the folk-derived forms don't tell the whole story of Southern music after all."

Note: Tom Bingham ends this article with info pertaining to the purchase of albums by John & Jerry Case.

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CONTRASTS IN JAZZ by John & Jerry Case Quartet / Quintet - Priority Records PRS-402   Vinyl LP issued 1974

Side 1: "Fire" featuring JOHN CASE, piano; JERRY CASE, guitar; CHARLES SCOTT, bass; WAYLAND SMAJSTRLA, drums. Recorded August 22, 1970.

Side 2:"Full Moon" featuring JOHN CASE, piano; JERRY CASE, guitar, MAURICE ANDERSON, pedal steel guitar; JIM PERKINS, electric bass; BILL MINER, drums. Recorded February 5, 1974.

 

Capsule Review of Contrasts in Jazz in Guitar Player Magazine - October 1974.

Note: Featured artists listed as Jerry Case and Maurice Anderson.

"Jerry's clean and tasty jazz guitar is supplemented on side two by Maurice Anderson's amazing pedal steel for a quintet cut that's hard to match."

 

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5 0 t h    A N N I V E R S A R Y   R E L E A S E        

2019 marked 50 years since Johnny Case issued his first Indy record album. It was the totally improvised VIBRA-DREAM CURRENTS, featuring Case alone on vibraharp. To celebrate the occasion, Johnny Case issued a CD-R entitled OTHER REALMS, focusing on some of the more non-conformist tendencies in his artistic output.

OTHER REALMS - Johnny Case Presents Exploratory and Esoteric Music.  Musicase CD-R    A compilation issued in 2019.  

Song of Solange / Run Free / Love's Bitter Rage / From Where Strays Never Call Home / Lewis Worrell / Song of No Return / Three Cues for Male Voices

All compositions by John Case, except Three Cues for Male Voices which is by Frank DeVol, from his soundtrack score to the 1956 Robert Aldrich film "Attack!".  The lyrics to Song of Solange are from the English translation of the closing passage in Jean Genet's play, The Maids.

 

Collective Personnel: JOHNNY CASE, piano; BYRON GORDON, acoustic bass; JOEY CARTER, drums; CHRIS WHITE, trumpet; SYLVESTER JONES, tenor saxophone; DUANE DURRETT, drums; BRIAN WARTHEN, acoustic bass; DON SOWELL, drums; JEREMY HULL, acoustic bass; DANIEL TCHECO, drums; DONNA THOMPSON, soprano vocal; CLAUDIA GONZALEZ, mezzo-soprano; NATHAN PHELPS, tenor; KEITH GROH, baritone; HUGH GALYEAN, bass; JACOB BURK, viola; NATHAN PHELPS, piano.

From Other Realms - Review by Edward Brown

"Pianist/composer Johnny Case may still be best known for his Herculean 28-year stint at Sardines Ristorante Italiano, which began in 1983 and had Case playing solo piano most weekdays and a trio on the weekends. He now gigs weekends at Lili's Bistro.

Case's steady output of albums captures his artistic growth (both as composer and improviser) since the release of his first album in 1969. His newest release, Other Realms, features several songs that showcase the veteran musician's mastery of lyrics and arranging. "Song of Solange" features soprano Donna Thompson singing to a supportive sonic backdrop that features Don Sowell on drums, Brian Warthen on upright bass, and Case on piano. The lyrics for "Song of Solange" are based on the English translation of a passage in The Maids, the play by French dramatist Jean Genet. The ballade opens with a rising swell of rich chords and bowed bass lines before Thompson enters with "The orchestra is playing". Sowell enters with an exuberant Thompson, delivering steady churns of brushstrokes that add more textural than percussive effects to the lyric-driven work. Thompson soon settles into a more sultry and velvety tone. Her careful attention to diction is clear throughout the work and adds to the storytelling feel of the work. Case's accompaniment follows Thompson's melodies note for note at times. During climatic moments where she sustains long-held notes, Case whirls about, propelling the music forward. It's a careful synchronization that one might expect more from a Schubert art song than a jazz song.

"Run Free" opens ominously with seemingly directionless trills by Case and intermittent rolls by Joey Carter. The raucous cacophony is joined by Sylvester Jones on tenor saxophone and trumpeter Chris White. Rather than coming into harmonic focus, the work builds into a frenetic free-jazz performance that layers Middle Eastern scales, modal piano passages, and New Orleans-styled polyphony into a ravenous and otherworldly listening experience. "Love's Bitter Rage," a pathos-filled art song, features mezzo-soprano Claudia Gonzalez singing Spanish translations of lyrics written by Case. "From Where Strays Never Call Home" boasts virtuosic passagework by Case while "Lewis Worrell" features a lengthy and moody solo by bassist Byron Gordon.

Fort Worth has a rich jazz legacy, thanks to the notable Fort Worth jazz legends who left our fair city for international careers (Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman, T-Bone Burnett) and the many working musicians and composers who stayed here. Other Realms is a laudable showcase for our local jazz talent and a reminder that Case remains one of the most important and influential local jazz pianists of the past half-century."

 

Note: EDWARD BROWN is a Fort-Worth-based writer whose articles have appeared in Clavier, Musical Opinion, Canadian Music Educator's Journal and Fort Worth Weekly. A more comprehensive description of his many activities can be found at: www.edwardbrownfw.com

 

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Bob Rusch, publisher of Cadence Magazine  (Review of Jazz and Blues), is introduced to the music of John & Jerry Case.

Speaking Their Piece... a recurring column in Cadence Magazine devoted to independent record releases of creative improvised music. This installment appeared in the September 1976 issue.

"In the same way that Columbus claimed to have "discovered" America, we at Cadence have the feeling of "discovering" the music of JOHN & JERRY CASE.  Discovery is rather presumptuous since one can hardly discover something that was already there, and like most "discoveries" it is more of a final awareness, the background and history of which we know very little about. What is evident is that John & Jerry Case have been recording their music out of Fort Worth, Texas since 1970, and up to this time have produced six consistently good jazz albums, five on Priority Records and one on Dawn Records. To be more exact, they are: "Sextet Sessions" (PRS-401) from 1972; "Contrasts in Jazz" (PRS-402) from 1970 and 1974; "Serenade" (PRS-403) from 1974; "Eclipse" (PRS-404) from 1975; "Two Moods" (PRS-406) from 1975 and "Pleasant Dreams" (DSLP) from 1970 and '71.  John Case is a pianist in the Bud Powell, Wynton Kelly tradition; On PRS-403...he plays bass. Jerry Case is a guitarist in a lineage that is rooted in Christian to Montgomery, all of their music is characterized by an easy, floating rhythm, and a purity of jazz voicing that, with the exception of an odd release here and there along with the Concord Records guitar masterpieces, is not often heard in today's fusion market. Aside from the straight ahead, very satisfying music which they present, there is also present on four of the albums, a rather new sound for Jazz - the use of steel guitar. Tom Morrell does most of the steel guitar work on these albums and it's highly distinctive and complimentary in a Jazz setting. The steel guitar is present as part of a sextet recording on the "Eclipse" date which produced "Birderic". "Birderic" is a John Case composition loosely based on "Scrapple From the Apple" whick "expresses some of my (John Case) feelings about Charlie Parker and Eric Dolphy...something like "Scrapple" would have sounded if Eric Dolphy had written it." John Westfall, a strong, decisive slide trombone player also is present on this session (and on PRS-405). The end result, "Birderic" sounds very much like a Lennie Tristano composition produced and arranged by Jaki Byard during one of his imaginative brainstorms, bold and assertive music and less confusing and disjointed than this commentary."   ---  Bob Rusch, 1976

 

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Noted percussionist and educator SAM ULANO includes albums by John & Jerry Case in the record review section of his 1970's-era periodical, The Guitar Teacher.

Capsule Review of SERENADE by John & Jerry Case Quartet - Priority Records PRS-403   Vinyl LP issued 1974

Serenade / In The Air / In The East / Back Again / Cold Spell / In The  Air (Part Two)

JERRY CASE, 7-string guitar; TOM MORRELL, pedal steel guitar; JOHN CASE, bass; DON SOWELL, drums. Recorded September 1974.

"The John & Jerry Case Quartet on Priority Records  No. PRS-403. On this album Jerry Case plays a 7-string guitar. This is another solid album on the PRIORITY LABEL. Other were mentioned in issue No. 3 of THE GUITAR TEACHER. This group comes out of Fort Worth, Texas...They are commers (sic)  and you'll be hearing a lot about John and Jerry Case QUARTET."

Sam Ulano - The Guitar Teacher, Spring - April 1975 

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Capsule Review by Don Menn in Guitar Player Magazine - August 1975:  Serenade by John & Jerry Case Quartet (Priority Records PRS-403)

​"Veterans of the self-produced album (this is their fourth venture), these two brothers continue making mellow jazz in a quartet that features John on bass, Jerry on 7-string guitar, Tom Morrell on steel guitar, and Don Sowell on drums. Jerry's cool approach to the guitar is nicely matched by Morrell's understated steel work. Nothing really razzle-dazzle, but certainly acceptable music for after-hours fans who need to unwind."

 

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Three Reviews of CREATIVE EXPLOSIONS by John Case with Don Anderson, Chris Clarke and Mark Lignell - Priority Records PRS-408  Vinyl LP issued 1981

BOB RUSCH review in Cadence Magazine - September 1981

Number 1; Number 2; Number 3.

JOHN CASE, piano; MARK LIGNELL, percussion. (Nos. 1 & 2)

DON ANDERSON, tenor & soprano saxophones, percussion; JOHN CASE, piano; CHRIS CLARKE, acoustic bass, kalimba, percussion; MARK LIGNELL, percussion and additional sounds. (No. 3)

Nos. 1 & 2  recorded January 1981 at Precision Sound Studios in Dallas, Texas. No. 3 recorded February 1981 at Cowtown Studios in Fort Worth, Texas.

"After an absence of over three years in these pages, it is a pleasure to announce a new release by the Fort Worth, Texas-based Priority Records. This label is run by the Case Brothers, guitarist Jerry and pianist John. For a look at their earlier recordings see the May '78 Cadence (p.28) and the Sept '76 issue (p. 11; also a revealing letter from John in that same issue - p. 13). Their previous releases were fine examples of straight-ahead, highly inventive swinging jazz with a slight nod to Western Swing. However, this new release by JOHN CASE, CREATIVE EXPLOSIONS (Priority PRS-408) covers a whole new terrain. Subtitled "Free Improvisations," the album's title is as accurate a description of the music as one could ask for. Recorded in 1981, the album consists of three improvisations entitled "No. 1," "No. 2," and No. 3." The first two find Case in duet with percussionist Mark Lignell. With its churning energy and dense chording, the pieces can't help to invoke images of Cecil Taylor's music. "No. 1" contrasts more lyrical piano sections with some high-energy, rapid-fire keyboard flurries. About half-way through there is a nice understated solo from Lignell that provides an effective contrast.  "No. 2" continues along the same lines but here Case shows some fine sensitivity and a delicate touch.

The third improvisation takes up all of the second side and finds the duo joined by saxist Don Anderson (any relation to pedal steel player Maurice Anderson who has appeared on earlier Priority releases?) * and bassist Chris Clarke. The performance has some highly effective moments as the four players work together as one. For the most part the piece is more reflective with only occasional bursts of manic energy. Anderson's playing on tenor and soprano (his tone on the latter makes it sound like a double reed instrument such as a shanai) is assured without overly dominating the music. Bassist Clarke has a couple of short solo spots and his strong tone anchors the music. Case and Lignell continue in the same form that made the first side so successful.  Recording quality is generally good although Case's piano isn't the best sounding one I've ever heard. Hopefully there will be more Priority releases on the way (how about one from Jerry Case?)."

* (no relation to Maurice Anderson).

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Review by Earl Weed in Texas Jazz periodical - February 1982

"Creative Explosions by John Case with Mark Lignell, Don Anderson and Chris Clarke (Priority Records PRS-408) represents a remarkably bold experiment directed toward the Dallas/Fort Worth jazz record market: a "free jazz" session conducted by local jazz musicians, recorded and produced for local sale in one of the most conservative big city musical environments in this country. The musicians that participated include Lignell on drums, Clarke on bass, Anderson on sax, and Case on piano leading the ensemble.

They all deserve out thanks for making the attempt to expand the ears of their neighbors. Beyond this, however, there is also much real talent in evidence on this recording. This is something more than merely "a good try". There can be heard an abundance of sympathetic listening and heartfelt playing.

On the other hand, I think it is unlikel that the music on this record will change very many people's thinking about abstract music. This is very thorny, hard core, free form jazz, not at all easy to listen to. As best I can tell, the pieces on this album are entirely improvised. They lack the unifying structure one finds in such masters as Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, both of whom tend to work around recognizable motifs guided by a pre planned superstructure, thereby giving the ear some things to hang on to.

Still, this album deserves applause simply because it exists at all. It is available from Priority Records, P.O. Bos 4049, Fort Worth 76106 ad (sic) $5 a copy."

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In 2005, CREATIVE EXPLOSIONS was reissued on CDR and was among five Johnny Case-issued discs reviewed by Frank Rubolino in the June 2005 issue of Cadence Magazine. Here is the excerpted portion pertaining to the reissued album of free jazz. 

"A totally different Case is heard on CREATIVE EXPLOSIONS (Musicase 6). This reissuing of a 1981 recording pits him with percussionist Mark Lignell, plus saxophonist Don Anderson and bassist/percussionist Chris Clarke on the last cut (Three Jazz Dialogues, 44:12, 1981, Dallas, TX, Ft. Worth, TX). Case eschews the ballads and popular tunes favored in recent years and instead concentrates on piano explorations based on an aggressive improvised platform. Kernals of his lyrical style glean through at times, but the music takes a wide-open stance where Case maneuvers unencumbered while exchanging free, interactive dialogue with Lignell. Case turns introspective at times, brooding over the keys, and then he breaks the mood and muscles his way out of his melancholy frame of mind. On the quartet cut, the band erupts. Case penetrates with percussive low-register punctuation around his upper-key flights, causing Anderson to respond with anguished saxophone wails of mystic spiritualism. Case's abandonment of time is in stark contrast with his melodic playing of late, making this date a tasty morsel for the adventurous listener."

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Two Reviews of  WESTERN SWING HERITAGE by Roy Lee Brown and his Musical Brownies (A Tribute to Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies) -  Priority Records PTS-3001. Cassette album, issued late 1989.

Opening Theme / If You Can't Get Five Take Two; Texas Hambone Blues; Stealing; Right or Wrong; House at the End of the Lane; Four or Five times; Roseland Melody; One of Us Was Wrong; Don't Ever Tire of Me; You're Tired of Me; I Had Someone Else; Old Watermill; Chinatown My Chinatown; My Mary; Closing Theme.

ROY LEE BROWN, vocals & leader; WES WESTMORELAND, fiddle; RANDY ELMORE, fiddle & electric mandolin; TOM MORRELL, pedal steel guitar; JOHNNY CASE, piano; BILLY LUTTRELL, rhythm guitar; LEON RAUSCH, electric bass and harmony vocals; BOB VENABLE, drums.  Recorded August 1989.

Review by Rich Kiennzle in the March-April 1990 issuue of Country Music Magazine.

"The Musical Brownies: It's an established fact that Milton Brown and his band, The Musical Brownies were the first real Western swing band. Their records for Decca through 1935 and 1936 were, in the eyes of of some swing aficionados better than Bob Wills' early recordings since The Brownies included pioneer electric steel guitarist Bob Dunn and pianist Fred "Papa" Calhoun. 

This past summer, Milton's brother Roy Lee, now in his seventies, recorded a Brownies tribute, Western Swing Heritage (Priority PTS-3001). This cassette-only release doesn't recreate The Brownies note-for-note, which would be impossible since most of its ex-members are dead, but even with its more modern sound, Roy Lee has revived The Brownies' infectious joy and spirit. 

These 14 numbers feature some excellent vocals from Roy Lee (whose physical resemblance to Milton is ghostly) backed by such outstanding Fort Worth musicians as guitarist Billy Luttrell, pianist Johnny Case, fiddler Wes Westmoreland, steel guitarist Tom Morrell, fiddler and electric mandolinist Randy Elmore and former Texas Playboy Leon Rausch, electric bass and (harmony) vocals. Brownie favorites "Four or Five Times", "If You Can't Get Five Take Two", "Texas Hambone Blues", "Chinatown My Chinatown" and "My Mary" are complemented by the only known recording of the band's closing theme song, which is untitled on the cassette."

 

Review by Mike Gross, Western Swing scholar and host of "Swinging West" radio program on WSHU-FM, Fairfield CT & KTPR-FM, Fort Dodge, Iowa.

"Roy Lee Brown is the youngest brother of deceased Western Swing legend and originator Milton Brown. It was Roy Lee who tried to reform this historic band with recordings in the Post WWII years. Now, thanks to Roy Lee and Jazz piano great Johnny Case, the Musical Brownies are alive with a wonderful album recorded on August 27, 1989.

The Brownie line-up has changed some since the 1933 group that created the now world famous Western Swing, "twin fiddle", improvisation, smooth vocal and amplified instrument trademarks. Yet, today we are treated to some wonderful musicians and a new world of technical sound to enjoy the Musical Brownies of the 90s. Roy Lee, of course, handles the vocals in a tradition created by brother Milton from the day he left the Light Crust Doughboys and organized his Musical Brownies back inSeptember 1932 until his untimely and tragic passing in April 1936. He also brings back memories of brother Derweed, also now deceased, who crooned in front of the band for a few years following Milton's death.

Tom Morrell, one of the most exciting Jazz and Western Swing steel guitar players, performs wonders on this album and brings back memories of the late Bob Dunn, the legendary Brownie steel player and the person credited as being the first to play Jazz and Western music on the steel in the fall of 1934. Randy "Snuffy" Elmore (currently with Mel Tillis" Statesiders band) and Wes Westmoreland treat us to some of the hottest fiddle takeoffs and that wonderful twin fidde sound that Jesse Ashlock, Cecil Brower and Cliff Bruner provided for Milton at different points in that historic early-mid 30s band. Randy also treats us to some of his wonderful hot electric mandolin takeoffs. Johnny Case, the co-producer of this album and a marvelous Jazz piano player, recreates the sound of the late Fred "Papa" Calhoun, the wonderful Brownie piano player and the first Jazz piano player to play in a Western band. Johnny is truly a marvelous musician.

The rhythm section is composed of Billy Luttrell on rhythm guitar, the great Texas Playboy crooner Leon Rausch on bass and harmony vocals and Bob Venable, also from the Light Crust Doughboys, on drums. It is both musically and genetically apparent that the Light Crust Doughboys, Musical Brownies and Bob Wills' Texas Playboys all emanate from the same musical tree.

The tunes draw heavily from the Milton Brown song bag and the album very interestingly opens and closes with the now obscure Milton Brown theme with the "Sweet Jennie Lee" melody. The songs include "If You Can't Get Five Take Two', penned by Andy Razaf, who gave us "That's What I Like 'Bout The South" and many other tunes down the line. Also included are "Texas Hambone Blues", Stealing", "House At The End Of The Lane", "Roseland Melody", Gus Kahn's "One Of Us Was Wrong", "Don't Ever Tire Of Me", and "You're Tired Of Me".

Of special note are Haven Gillespie's early masterpiece "Right Or Wrong", a true Western Swing standard that has been recorded by just about everybody associated with Western Swing, and "Four Or Five Times", another Western Swing standard also associated with the late "Daddy of Western Swing", Bob Wills. Speaking of Bob Wills, two other tunes in this album that bring to mind intereswting Wills Tiffany (radio) transciptions are "I Had Someone Else" (crooned by Tommy Duncan for Tiffany) and "Chinatown" a true Milton Brown standard that the late fiddle legend Joe Holley crooned with Wills. The remaining two tunes are also true standards done many times over the years, "Old Waterfall" and the late Stuart Hamblen's "My Mary".

Another special treat to mention is the wonderful liner notes in the sleeve of this cassette. It is very highly recommended to all fans of Western Swing, steel guitars, string Jazz and hot fiddle or piano playing."

(Note: The song "Sweet Jennie Lee" appears, not on this album, but on Volume II of Western Swing Heritage, a cassette release of 1991 featuring the same band and issued by Roy Lee Brown on his Brownie label.)

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JAZZ JOURNEY by Johnny Case - Priority 412.  CDr reviewed by Frank Rubolino in Cadence Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 6 - June 2005, page 31.

Collective Personnel: JOHNNY CASE, piano; CHARLES SCOTT, bass; DAVE BREASHEARS, drums; BILL ATWOOD, flugelhorn; CHRIS WHITE, flute & bass; DON SOWELL, drums.  Recorded 1990 and 1991 at Patrick McGuire Recording, Arlington, Texas. Issued in late 2001.

"Pianist Johnny Case is showcased on...JAZZ JOURNEY (Priority 412), his work primarily is cut from the blues cloth with a strong foundation in the post-bop tradition. Case, who has been active on the Dallas/Fort Worth jazz scene for a number of decades, plays in two trio settings with either bassist Charles Scott and drummer Dave Breashears or bassist Chris White and drummer Don Sowell. Two other selections feature a quintet augmented by flugelhornist Bill Atwood and White switching to flute. Case intersperses original material with several classic jazz pieces that fit the swinging mold he adeptly forms (Blues for Mister Bruce / St. Thomas / Softly As in a Morning Sunrise / One Too Few / Birderic / Song of Solange / Things Ain't What They Used to Be / Back at the Chicken Shack / What's New / Here's That Rainy Day / Quarry's Plight / Ode to Jean Genet / The Open Sea / Headin' Home. 69:32, no date or city listed). Cole's (sic) style is bold and assertive, he clearly perpetuates the straight-ahead genre using vibrant and resonating currents of energy and ringing chords. His galloping solo on "Quarry's Plight" definitively captures his musical personality of the time.  While the execution is flawless, the message is one heard countless times throughout the years."

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COUNTRY SWING STEEL GUITAR by Chuck Caldwell - Priority Records PRS-407  Vinyl LP issued 1980

Elevation / Lawton Blues / Cold Cold Heart / A New Moon / Perdido / Divisio / Stomping at the Savoy / All Night Gig / I Love You Because

CHUCK CALDWELL, pedal steel guitar; JERRY CASE, guitar and bass; JOHN CASE, piano and bass; DON BRIERTON, drums.  Recorded October 23, 1977 at Nesman Studios in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Capsule review by Rich Kienzle in "Buried Treasures" section Country Music Magazine (early 1980's - exact date not available).

"Steel guitar albums never get much notice most of the time. They're unprofitable for the major labels and, right or wrong, are often noticed only by other steelers. Chuck Caldwell's Country Swing Steel Guitar (Priority PRS-407) is just such a record. Caldwell came out of Western swing, but never achieved the legendary status of a Buddy Emmons. Unlike most steel players he uses a flat pick to play impressive renditions of Cold Cold Heart, I Love You Because and jazz standards like Stomping at the Savoy in a mellow, swinging style."

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WAITING FOR THE MOMENT by Johnny Case with Byron Gordon and Duane Durrett - Sea Breeze Jazz  SB-3068  CD issued 2004

 Sister Sadie / I Want To Talk About You / Nica's Dream / Lewis Worrell / I Remember You / Soft Winds / Blue Clay / I Wish You Love / Waiting For the Moment / You Leave Me Breathless

JOHNNY CASE, piano; BYRON GORDON, acoustic bass; DUANE DURRETT, drums.  Recorded Deember 2003 @ Patrick McGuire Recording in Arlington, Texas. Recording Engineer: Pat McGuire. Mixing by McGuire, Durrett and Case.

Review by Ken Shimamoto in Fort Worth Weekly (early 2004).

"Last Wednesday, pianist Johnny Case celebrated the 21st anniversary of his long-running engagement at Sardines Ristorante Italiano, Fort Worth's longest-running jazz gig. He also used the occasion to fete the release of this c.d., his 12th recording since 1969 and his first on the California-based Sea Breeze Jazz label.

Waiting for the Moment, an elegantly swinging trio date, captures Case what he does best - stretching out on a selection of jazz standards and original compositions in the company of a pair of highly sympathetic accompanists. Drummer Duane Durrett learned his craft alongside Case back in the '60s, when the two novice jazzmen often found themselves performing with seasoned pros like pianist red Garland and saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and James Clay. He's a thinker and listener behind the traps, and he propels the music crisply, without showboating. Byron Gordon, a classically trained muso who's spent the last few years joined at the hip with rocker Tim Locke, has been Case's regular bassist since illness forced his revered predecessor, the late Charles Scott, to relinquish the gig. The communication and mutual regard among the three men is clearly audible on these 10 tunes.

There are ghosts all over this disc. Gordon's entire performance is a tribute to Scott's influence, from his solid uncluttered accompaniment to his effective soloing. Clay, the Cowtown native who made his mark inthe late-'50s Ray Charles band, receives props in Durrett's modal original "Blue Clay", with its stomping, bluesy ostinato. Case's two compositions - "Lewis Worrell" and the title track - feature angular melodies reminiscent of the masterwork of Thelonious ZMonk, along with Case's seemingly endless flow of melodic ideas. Tunes like Billy Eckstine's "I Want to Talk About You" (forever associated with sax giant John Coltrane) and Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You" showcase the pianist's lyrical ballad style, which prompted one local muso to dub him "the Bill Evans of Fort Worth." The pair of Horace Silver numbers included here capture the flavor of the late-night jams where Case and Durrett served their apprenticeship.

The music is a scintillating conversation amid a world of blaring soundbites.  Listen."

 

Review in Cadence Magazine, Vol. 31  No.  6 - June 2005 issue, pages 105 & 106.

"Waiting For The Moment is comprised of pianist Johnny Case, acoustic bassman Byron Gordon, and Duane Durrett on drums. Case and Durrett are the two veterans, having both paid their dues in the greater Dallas / Fort Worth area back in the day when such Lone Star legends as Red Garland, James Clay, and David "Fathead" Newman performed regularly in the region. Both have known each other and gigged for some thirty years but this is their first time recording together. Gordon is the pup of the group, yet he and Case gig regularly in Fort Worth so, as one can imagine, this trio is tight and still relaxed.  Two Horace Silver lines mixed with five other standards of sorts make up the bulk of the playlist. Drummer Duane Durrett, who has also worked with Texas tenormen Dewey Redman and Marchel Ivery, contributed "Blue Clay" while Case came up with two numbers, the Monkish title tune and "Lewis Worrell" dedicated to the bassist of the same name and featuring Byron Gordon's big bull, to a large degree. It's apparent these guys are true professionals and they deliver a straight-ahead and agreeable set."

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SOLO GUITAR ARTSTRY by Jerry Case - Priority Records PRS-410  Vinyl LP issued 1986.

Ain't Misbehavin' /  Emily / Once I Loved / Nice to Be Around /  Green Dolphin Strreet / Jordu / Yesterdays / Theme From M.A.S.H. / Prelude to a Kiss / Like Someone in Love

JERRY CASE, unaccompanied 7-string guitar.  Recorded August and September, 1985.  Produced by John & Jerry Case.

Review by Robert Yelin (jazz guitarist, recording artist and publisher of a record collectors' catalog). The following review appeared in the Spring 1986 Supplemental List to Robert Yelin's Jazz Record Catalog.

"This is a magnificent, 7-string, solo guitar album! Case plays in a contrapuntal style similar to George Van Eps (But Case's chords are more modern). Case plays chord melody style with the melody, chords and bass lines being played all at once!! He's INCREDIBLE! He's a mini-orchestra. The tunes are all between three and a half and four and a half minutes long. Each time around on the same song Case changes the harmony. It's like hearing the same song played by four or five different guitarists! I've never heard anything like that before!! There are 10 tunes on the album. They are all great. Some of them are: "Ain't Misbehavin'", "Emily", "Prelude To A Kiss", "Green Dolphin Street", "Jordu", "Like Someone In Love". GET THIS ALBUM - IT'S A TREASURE !! "

Note: Words with all capitalized letters and (sometimes) multiple exclamation points are as Robert Yelin published the article in his catalog.  A few words were also underlined for additional emphasis, but the underlining is omitted here.

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THE COUNTRY-JAZZ MOODS OF MERLE DAVID - Priority Records PRS-409  Vinyl LP  issued 1984.

Jumping with Symphony Sid / Caravan / Don't Take Your Love From Me / Undecided / How High the Moon / There Will Never Be Another You / Misty / Elevation

MERLE DAVID, fiddle; JOHN CASE, electric piano; JERRY CASE, bass; RON THAYER, drums.  Recorded November 29, 1980 at Cowtown Studios in Fort Worth, Texas. David Hearne, engineer; Johnny Case and Gary Carpenter, co-producers..

Review by A. David Franklin in Cadence Magazine, Vol. 11 No. 8 - August 1985, page 74.

"The Merle David record contains, not country music, but Jazz as performed by a man who usually appears in country contexts. The tunes are either Jazz classics or standards favored by Jazzmen and the style of the rhythm section would sound natural in a typical Jazz club. David's solos on this set of loosely put together "arrangements" reveals a quick harmonic ear and a technical facility that puts it to good use. Surprisingly, his phrasing fails to give away his country background and resembles more than anything else the melismatic conception of a hybrid swing/bop Jazz saxophonist. But when one compares these improvisations qualitatively to those of the finest Jazz players, they fall way short. In brief, it is amazing that a country musician can play Jazz so well, as compared to other non-jazz musicians, but it is also true that this is not first-class music, evaluated strictly by Jazz standards; it appeals more on the basis of its novelty than on its substance. Still, David's solos, in spite of the many cliches and the tendency toward squared-off, clipped phrases, are pleasant to listen to and the rhythm section (notwithstanding a mix in which the drums are overly-dominant and the electric piano under-recorded) provides tasteful, contemporary mainstream accompaniment and solos. In sum, the record is somewhat interesting for its premise, but not particularly so for its content."

Note: The recurring capitalization of the word jazz stems from the editorial policy of the publisher of Cadence Magaziine.

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Two Johnny Case CDs of Live Performances at Sardines Ristorante Italiano reviewed by Frank Rubolino in Cadence Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 6 - June 2005, Page 31.

JAZZ IN THE DARK by Johnny Case with guest Chris White = Priority 418  CDr issued January 2002.

Demolition Coalition Blues / Fly Me to the Moon / Alone Together / What Is This Thing Called Love / Stella by Starlight / Dialogue in the Dark / Dancing in the Dark / Laure / Destination Moon

JOHNNY CASE, piano; CHRIS WHITE, acoustic bass (Tracks 1,4 & 6). Recorded live at the original Sardines Ristorante Italiano in Fort Worth, Texas on the night of September 18, 2001.,

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LAST NITES by Johnny Case - Priority 415 CDr issued November 2001

Here's That Rainy Day / Don't Take Your Love From Me / These Foolish Things / On the Sunny Side of the Street / East of the Sun / Makin' Whoopee / Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most / Body and Soul / The Veils / Old Folks / Blue Adieu.  

JOHNNY CASE, solo piano - Recorded live at the original Sardines Ristorante Italiano in Fort Worth, Texas on the night of September 19, 2001.

" On JAZZ IN THE DARK (Priority 418), Case appears live at a Fort Worth restaurant as a soloist and in duet with bassist White. Sound quality is not as resonant in this setting (compared to a studio recording), but (we hear) the essence of Case and his rollicking, happy-go-lucky phrasing. Blues and standards sustain his repertoire; he injects two original cuts among seven established tunes. White provides a firm, paced foundation on his three duet encounters with Case. Their flowing, co-authored "Dialogue in the Dark" with subdued Blues undercurrents is the session's most advanced cut.  Although the venue might appear to having limited appeal to an improvising artist, Case disregards the setting and rolls along spinning out joyful choruses and dancing variations off the melody changes.

A day later, Case appeared at the same restaurant doing 11 solo pieces on LAST NITES (Priority 415). He merrily prances through popular pieces and again supplements them with a couple of original songs. Most of these Tin Pan Alley tunes are offered as tender ballads, but Case finds room to stretch out on his enthusiastic solos. The crowd is polite and attentive. Case appears to have captured and held their attention. The infrequently heard gem "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" with its bittersweet  love theme is given a tender reading and a sparkling improvised twist. Case caters to the dinner crowd on this program, making music to soothe the digestion and captivate the reminiscent romantic in the audience."

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SEXTET SESSIONS by John & Jerry Case - Musicase-1   2005 CDr reissue of 1972 Priority LP (PRS-401).

Bags' Groove / In a Mellow Tone / Secret Love / Perdido

JERRY CASE, guitar; MAURICE ANDERSON, pedal steel guitar; TOM MORRELL, pedal steel guitar; JOHN CASE, piano; CHARLES SCOTT, acoustic bass; DON SOWELL, drums. Recorded June 22, 1972 at Delta Studios in Fort Worth, Texas. John Pattersom, engineer.

Reviewed in Cadence Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 6, June 2005, page 29.

"THE CASE BROTHERS stroll with a mellow Country groove on SEXTET SESSIONS. The program (see above) features Jerry Case on guitar, brother John Case on piano, pedal steel guitarists Maurice Anderson and Tom Morrell, bassist Charles Scott, and drummer Don Sowell. This re-release oozes with the Blues in a relaxed setting that features expressive solo work from everyone. On piano and lead guitar, the Case Brothers capture a comfortable mood that lets them interpret these classic Jazz tunes naturally. While the piano's tonal presence isn't rich enough to be considered, the others  provide plenty of volume that gives off a delicious timbre. Guitar, pedal steel and bass shine brightly with a lucid appearance and clarion tones. The sextet has a firm grasp of Jazz standard interpretation, and works these four selections from the heart with a laid-back Country Blues groove."

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HOW THE WEST WAS SWUNG, VOL. 1 by Tom Morrell and the Time-Warp Tophands - Priority Records  PTS- 3002     Cassette album issued in 1991.

Steelin' Home / Texas Blues / I Can't Go On This Way / Oh Lonesome Me / Sweet Kind of Love / Hang Your Head in Shame / Honeysuckle Rose / Curtain Call / Mr. Steel Guitar / Misery / Son of Misery / I Didn't Realoze /  When it's Roundup Time in Texas, or: When the Bloom is on the Sage.

TOM MORRELL, pedal steel guitar, dobro and lead guitar; BOB BOATRIGHT & RICK SOLOMON, fiddles; RICH O'BRIEN & LEON CHAMBERS, lead guitar; RODNEY BOOTH, trumpet; RANDY LEE, saxes; BENNY GARCIA, rhythm guitar; JOHNNY CASE, piano & bass; DEAN REYNOLDS, bass; TOMMY PERKINS & BILL MINER, drums; LEON RAUSCH, DON EDWARDS & LANNY LONG, vocals. All arrangements by Tom Morrell. Recorded at three sessions during the summer of 1990. Producer: Tom Morrell; Executive Producer: Johnny Case. Recording Engineer: Gary Hogue. Mixed (Fall 1990) by Gary Hogue with assistance from Tom Morrell, Johnny Case, Leon Rausch and Bill Miner. Issued on cassette in early '91 with financial assistance from Charlie Norris, President of the Texas Steel Guitar Association.

Two Reviews of How the West Was Swung, Volume One.

Review by Mike Gross of WSHU-FM, Fairfield, CT; Seldem, NY & KABL-TV-6 Canadian, TX.

"Tom Morrell, a 1988 inductee into the Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, has been deprived of his own album for much too long. Piano great Johnny Case and his Priority record label have rectified this with one of the greatest Western Swing albums ever recorded. Tom's steel playing is at its very best. He surrounds himself with some of the very best musicians that one could amass. In addition to Johnny Case, the band includes the fiddles of former Texas Playboy Bob Boatright and former Mel Tillis Statesider Rick "Beaver" Solomon. In addition to the steel, dobro and lead guitar of Tom, listen up for the leads of Rich O'Brien (of Red Steagall's former Coleman County Cowboys who recently cooked on Don Edwards' newest LP gem) and Leon Chambers, an alumnus of that historic Western Starlighters band. Former Woody Herman Third Herd trumpet player Rodney Booth and saxophonist Randy Lee supply the horns and reed. Listen to Randy's unbelieveable sax on the Bob Wills standard I Didn't Realize, penned by former Wills crooner Rusty McDonald. The rhythm section is comprised of Benny Garcia (a great lead man with Spade Cooley), Bob Wills and Benny Goodman, just to name a few of his prestigious musical stops), the bass of Dean Reynolds (from Willie Nelson's Rainbow Band and the Freddie Powers Trio) and the drums of Tommy Perkins and Bill Miner. Tommy P. of course, matriculated in the band business with Bob and Billy Jack Wills and Leon McAuliffe's Cimmeron Boys while Bill formerly played in bands with Tom Morrell. Now for the vocalists, this is truly a wonderful treat. Don Edwards, possibly the greatest singer of cowboy songs today, is heard crooning on two tunes. They are Texas Blues out of the Wills tunebook and It's Roundup Time in Texas When the Bloom is on the Sage, from the Happy Chappies (Nat Vincent and Fred Howard) songbag of the early 30's. Lanny Long, another fine crooner,is heard on vocal on a Western Swing arrangement (from the late Billy Thompson's band) of the Don Gibson-composed and recorded country music classic Oh Lonesome Me. The remainder of the vocals are handled by possibly the greatest song styist of any kind of songs, former Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills vocalist supreme, Mr. Leon Rausch.

The remaining tunes in the album include Noel Boggs (one of Tom's musical idols) steel guitar classic, Steelin' Home and three Fred Rose masterpieces from the Bob Wills songbook, I Can't Go On This Way, Sweet Kind of Love and Hang Your Head in Shame. Tommy picks up the dobro on Fats Waller's Honeysuckle Rose and is joined in this acoustic treat by some super Rick Solomon fiddle licks and the lead guitar of Rich O'Brien. Two other fantastic instrumentals rejuvinated by these great pickers are the late Billy Gray's standard Curtain Call (written by Billy's super steel man Bobby Koefer, who Tom played along side and eventually replaced in Billy's great "Western Okies" band) and Mr. Steel Guitar a fantastic steel guitar oriented musical-gem written and recorded by the late Leon McAuliffe. Also included in the wonderful album are Misery and an instrumentally oriented Son of Misery also from the Bob Wills tunebook and composed by the late "Daddy of Western Swing" with two of his great Texas Playboys (also deceased) his longtime crooner, Tommy Duncan, and mandolin innovator Tiny Moore. You can really enjoy Leon Rausch singing on these and Bob Boatright's classic intro.

This album is also graced with interesting and informative Johnny Case liner notes and a very intriguing jacket design done by the talented Tom Morrell."

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Review of HOW THE WEST WAS SWUNG, VOLUME ONE by Rich Kenzle, published in the May /June 1991 issue of Country Music Magazine.

"Texas steel guitarist Tom Morrell has assembled an awesome group known as the Time-Warp Tophands for How the West Was Swung (Priority Cassette PTS-3002), the hottest modern Western swing recorded in years. Jazz pianist Johnny Case, fiddlers Rick Solomon and Bob Boatright, three former Playboys - guitarist Benny Garcia, drummer Tommy Perkins and vocalist Leon Rausch - and two other vocalists, Lanny Long and Western singer Don Edwards, play songs of the past with today's punch and inventiveness. Even Asleep at the Wheel couldn't top this.

Morrell shines on two steel guitar showpieces: Noel Boggs' "Steelin' Home" and Leon McAuliffe's "Mr. Steel Guitar". There are such Bob Wills standards as "I Can't Go On This Way", "Hang Your Head in Shame", an amazing arrangement of "I Didn't Realize", "Misery" and Sweet Kind of Love". Rausch, who knows these songs forwards and backwards, sings them better than ever. The Tophands' version of "Oh Lonesome Me" is as much jazz as country, and Edwards does a fine job with "When It's Roundup Time in Texas". This amazing cassette deserves more exposure than it will get. Morrell's charming- hand-drawn cartoon cover gives it just the right touch. It's already one of my Top Ten favorites for 1991."

 

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SERENADE by Jerry Case Quartet on Musicase 3, CR-R issued 2005.

Serenade / In the Air ? In the East / Back Again / Cold Spell / In the Air (part two).

JERRY CASE, 7-string guitar; TOM MORRELL, pedal steel guitar; JOHNNY CASE, acoustic bass (electric bass on Track 2); DON SOWELL, drums.

Recorded September, 1974 at Delta Studios in Fort Worth, Texas. John Patterson, engineer.

Review of Serenade in Cadence Magazine, Vol 31 No. 6, June 2005.

"Guitarist JERRY CASE returns with his quartet on SERENADE (Musicase 3) in which his brother plays bass and both Tom Morrell and drummer Don Sowell sit in with the same roles as on their earlier session (Sextet Sessions, 1972).  The program of originals (Quartet Blues / Serenade / InThe Air / Cold Spell / In The East / In The Air Again. 32:12. Sep 3, 1974, Fort Worth, TX) recalls the magic spirit of Wes Montgomery.  With this re-release, Jerry Case shines brightly, as his 7-string model weaves ballads, Bossa Nova, and the Blues into a stellar setting that remains luxuriant and driven with intensity.  His fluid technique lets Case turn his guitar this way and that, spitting out notes at a rapid clip and making them all fit into seamless phrases. Throughout the session, he returns to the Blues time and again with heartfelt expression. With a vocalist's intuition, the guitarist interprets each selection with a natural ease. "In the East" serves as the session's high point, evoking an exotic melodic charm to the accompaniment of walking bass and ride cymbal. The quartet wears this one like a close-fitting glove, as Case stretches out with meaningful epithets. While the program contains a few uneven spots where the featured artist meandered, unsure of his direction, its overall mood celebrates deep feeling and a genuine spirit."

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HEART OF THE GREAT SOUTHWEST by Johnny Case and his Royal Ramblers on Priority PTS-3003, Cassette tape issued in 1993 and reissued on Musicase CD-R (no catalog number) in 2005.

Riding the Trail / The Honey Song / I'm All Alone / I'm Beginning to Forget You / Heart of the Great Southwest / Throwing in the Cards / Gals Don't Mean a Thing / Fort Worth Jail / I Hate to See You Go / The Blubonnet Waltz / Red Wing / Riding the Trail (extended version).

BUDDY WALLIS, fiddle & electric mandolin; TOM MORRELL, non-pedal steel guitar; JOHNNY CASE, piano & leader; BILLY LUTTRELL, rhythm guitar (he solos on Track 2); LEON RAUSCH, electric bass (vocal on Track 8); GREG LUTTRELL, drums.

Recorded April 21, 1993 at Pat McGuire Recording in Arlington, Texas. Pat McGuire engineer. Mixing by Pat McGuire, Johnny Case & Leon Rausch..

Review of Heart of the Great Southwest by Mike Gross in Country Music Journal, late 1994.

"Johnny Case is a tremendous Jazz piano player that has also been producing Jazz and Western Swing albums with such legendary names as Maurice Anderson, Tommy Morrell, Merle David andJerry Case, just to name a few. For his latest project, Johnny has gone to his roots and recorded an album as a tribute to his parents J.C. and Floy Case, his uncles Bill Case and Homer Hargrove and the country music of their time. For this album, he has taken the name of one of their groups and has given it to the top notch musicians who appear herein.

Besides his own piano, Johnny has again treated us to the always flawless and exciting steel guitar of Tom Morrell. Other Western Swing luminaries are fiddle player Buddy Wallis (also on electric mandolin), Billy Luttrell on guitar, his son Greg Luttrell on drums and Western Swing vocal great Leon Rausch on bass. Leon is also heard on the album's one vocal tune, Dick Reinhart's Fort Worth Jail. The session was held in Arlington, Texas on April 21, 1993.

Other tunes include an album opening and closing version of a family original Riding the Trail. Other family originals include I'm All Alone, I'm Beginning to Forget You, Heart of the Great Southwest, I Hate to See You Go, The Bluebonnet Waltz and Throwing in the Cards. The last tune mentioned was also written in part by Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery, the long-time leader of the legendary Light Crust Doughboys. The Light Crust Doughboys (and the Flying X Ranchboys) performed many of these Case Family originals. Recordings of a couple of these were made by country music Hall of Famer Ernest Tubb. From the pen and tunebook of the late Curt Massey with sister Louis Massey and Her Westerners, Johnny and his group borrowed The Honey Song and Gals Don't Mean a Thing.  

Another treat is to listen to Johnny Case and his Royal Ramblers do their rendition of an old-timer that recently won a grammy for Asleep at the Wheel, Red Wing.

This album should be considerd a must for those of us that enjoy mostly instrumental music, especially those that enjoy the above mentioned musicians and great old-time songs."

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more to come .....