Doug Johns: Stank
With its green-hued cover art and colorful title, bassist Doug John’s Stank CD features memorable qualities before it’s even opened. But once it is, Stank offers up the advertised layer of funk – sometimes overtly; sometimes covertly – over 10 stellar tracks.
If you’re not yet familiar with Johns’ name, you’ll recognize elements of his sound, which mixes the influence of funky forefathers Jaco Pastorius and Rocco Prestia with modern masters like Victor Wooten and Brian Bromberg.
The Cleveland-based Johns wrote or co-wrote each of Stank’s compositions, and the first, Bird’s Back Yard, evokes memories of some of Tower of Power’s greasy classics. The bassist’s unaccompanied runs are staggering, and his slapped patterns drive the horn section of saxophonist Kenny Anderson and trumpeter Joe Miller during the chorus.
Guest stars include guitarist Oz Noy, whose interaction with Johns and fellow guitarist Brian Davidson creates hoedown mayhem on Funk Tree. Former John McLaughlin keyboardist Otmaro Ruiz provides textural synthesizers and acoustic and electric piano to the ballad Namaste, and he propels the frenetic Satchmo as well. Versatile saxophonist Kenny Anderson also stands out on this track, which is fueled by the rhythmic muscle of Johns and drummer Chris Ceja (who’s also the bassist’s self-titled duo partner).
Vocalist Utah Witherspoon puts extra stank on Up the Funk; Hammond organist Mark Leach grinds on the title track, and Johns adds two very different-flavored solo showcases. The Red features both his bass and guitar playing amid programmed percussion, resulting in a mix of folk and Latin music. And the closing ballad With You in Mind blends Johns’ inventive overdubbed solos with a beautiful underlying bass melody.
With his arsenal of tapped, slapped and finger-style patterns, Johns offers up a modern groove classic with Stank. It’s the kind of funk you can’t wash off, and won’t want to.
Doug Johns (bass, guitar, programming)
Chris Ceja (drums, percussion)
Otmaro Ruiz (keyboards)
Oz Noy (guitar, banjo)
Mark Leach (Hammond organ)
Kenny Anderson (soprano, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones)
Joe Miller (trumpet)
Utah Witherspoon (vocals)
Brian Davidson (guitar, mandolin)
Rafael Guzman Jr. (percussion)
1.Bird’s Back Yard
2. Booty Time
3. Funk Tree
5. Summer Song
7. The Red
8. Up the Funk
10. With You in Mind