Detroit's RJ Spangler and band have done it again. Fresh off a Louis Jordan tribute album in its Live at the Scarab Club series, the band digs even deeper for fans of 1940s-era proto-R&B with a tribute to Buddy Johnson. Planet D Nonet's tribute is so impeccably played, and so crisply recorded, it's a surprise to hear the crowd cheer and remember this is a live set – especially as Johnson's music walks the chalk line between jazz's classy airs and pre-rock raunch. This lovingly curated series is a service to pre-existing hepcats, but, more importantly, to those cats who have yet to be hepped. If you're "crazy 'bout a saxophone," this is for you. – Stephen Koch, author of Louis Jordan: Son of Arkansas, Father of R&B and host of "Arkansongs," syndicated on public radio stations.
Eastlawn ELD #038
Recorded on May 20, 2018 at the Scarab Club, Detroit, MI
The odds these days of a large group of musicians recording 16 songs live in a club by 1940s pianist, singer, songwriter and big band leader Buddy Johnson, who played blues and ballads for dancing at the Savoy Ballroom and throughout the south, seems an unlikely prospect. Yet, you have here it is! One swinging afternoon in 2018 at Detroit's Scarab Club, this show, led by drummer RJ Spangler, consisting of ten of Detroit's finest musicians plus two additional vocalists, manage to capture the spirit of this one of a kind, important orchestra which has been nearly forgotten in the annals of American musical history.
Luckily you can hear in this recording, just how special the songs and arrangements are, presented here in a live club performance by folks who love the music. Originally recorded between the early 1940s the mid-1950s. Buddy Johnson was right in the center of the evolution of rock and roll from the beginning of rhythm and blues to the advent of this new form of black influenced music for young adults.
On this live recording, Planet D Nonet play many of my favorite Buddy Johnson tunes. So put on this CD, sit back and hear the music of one of Rhythm and Blues greatest composers unfold into what became Rock and Roll a decade later. It's a fun and enjoyable trip!
-Duke Robillard, 2022