Spiritual, genuine, heartfelt, and whimsical are the words that best describe this recording. Quartz City is a collection of works composed and performed by marimba/vibraphone soloist and percussionist David Johnson, who is joined by the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet and percussionists Steve Forman, Nick Terry, TJ Troy, and Lynn Vartan. In addition, cellist Roger Lebow, who commissioned "Dark Wing," gives a hauntingly beautiful performance.
Johnson is known for his unique blend of jazz and minimalist styles. His credits include a variety of collaborations: a member of the historic Blackearth Percussion Group, he has also worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pierre Boulez, Dave Brubeck, Stuart Copland, and can be heard on approximately 40 movie scores.
Three large percussion ensemble works-"Quartz City," "Dark Wing," and "Oregon Variations"-feature Johnson as a soloist, while the inner two works, "Los Osos" amd "Shape Shifter," are smaller scale vibraphone/marimba duos. "Quartz City"-scored for solo vibraphone with percussion ensemble-won the 1995 PAS composition contest. "Los Osos" is a Friedman/Samuels-esque duo for marimba and vibes, commissioned (performed here) by Lynn Varton. The work is an excellent vehicle for Johnson's improvisation, but the tune also begins and ends with a wonderfully quirky 36-bar unison melody separated by a tenth.
The CD is a reflection of the varied interests and merging styles that Johnson has refined over the years. This is just one of many projects by an ambitious (and busy) percussionist, who will continue to cultivate a unique voice in contemporary percussion.