The JPJ Quartet was an exciting band that had few opportunities to record during its brief existence. Originally launched after tenor saxophonist Budd Johnson, bassist Bill Pemberton, and drummer Oliver Jackson toured in a quartet with Earl Hines, the initial group added Welsh pianist Dill Jones. By the time this final recording was made in 1973, which was evidently released only in Great Britain, Benny Aronov had taken over on piano. Though the sound of the group changed, the essence of its sound didn't. The program includes two standards, a rousing "Russian Lullaby" and a mellow take of "Imagination," the latter featuring Johnson on soprano sax. The bassist and drummer jointly composed the blues riff "Bill and Oliver," which has a fine solo by the newcomer. Johnson is heard on baritone sax on Pemberton's lush ballad, "I Miss You," while Jackson's drum solo is the centerpiece of "OJBJ Blues." Their brash interpretation of the often syrupy pop song "(They Long to Be) Close to You" (with Johnson again on soprano sax) is a riot. This rewarding RCA LP will be somewhat difficult to locate.
During an era when swing-oriented jazz was being greatly overshadowed not only by rock, soul jazz, bop and avant-garde but the new mixture of music called fusion, Budd Johnson, Dill Jones, Bill Pemberton and Oliver Jackson came together as the JPJ Quartet, a co-op group that lasted from 1969 to 1975. The JPJ Quartet gave its musicians an opportunity to play in their own style without worrying about commercial compromise or paying tribute to earlier days.