While no such special effort is really required in order to crowd Chicago's commuter trains, it seems possible that an entire car, if not a whole train, could be stuffed with musicians from that city who had to wait until they were senior citizens before getting a chance to step into the limelight. In 1999, tenor saxophonist Eddie Johnson
was not releasing his first-ever solo album with the critically-adored Love You Madly
at the age of nearly 80. That had happened back in 1981, when the Nessa label released Indian Summer
, once again proving the firm's value in providing important documentation of under-exposed Chicago players. Johnson
, not to be confused with the earlier pianist who led Eddie Johnson's Crackerjacks
, was already about 60 years old when he got the Nessa nod, however.
Playing abilities had nothing to do with Johnson
staying in the background -- it was rather his preference to work as a sideman rather then step out front, dating back to his earliest gigs in the '40s. Even his decisions regarding sideman employment, though based on sensible concerns regarding money, may have led to situations where his individual talents received lesser exposure. He turned down Duke Ellington
's band because the rhythm & blues band of Louis Jordan
was paying more; either way, he was involved in great music but in Ellington
's group a sideman might enjoy the benefit of music that has been especially tailored to showcase his talents. Johnson
also worked in an orchestra backing jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald
during the period when the song "Jersey Bounce" was developed. The tenor saxophonist is one of at least five writers credited with concocting this ditty, resulting in a set of writer's credits as long as a distinctly unbouncy tie-up on the Jersey turnpike.