Writings about Music
Refined Resplendence: Johnny Magnus
Johnny Magnus strikes out lazy expectations every time he takes the mound. He throws perfect fastballs, curves, sliders, changeups, and last but not least - screwballs or knuckleballs. This supremely elegant broadcaster has no patience for pretense and mediocrity. He is as close to music as one can be, finding recordings that ascend to his passion for perfection.
Being a New Yorker, and always a New Yorker at heart myself, I sometimes wonder why I'm here in Los Angeles. Then, someone like Johnny Magnus takes the stage, eviscerating all charades and illusions, and I know why I'm here. Where else can you, on the spur of the moment, take a walk past homes where Artie Shaw, Jerome Kern, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Gershwins lived while humming songs they invented and portrayed? Listening to Magnus takes you to such stratospheres of music consciousness.
Johnny gently preaches with his Japanese haiku-succinct, delightfully brilliant commentary answers to the eternal question, "What is this thing called, love?" referring to music or life itself, of course.
Like the Pandits and Ustads of India, Magnus intuitively knows that Hasya rasa is a central part of music, complimenting and balancing the bodies of Shringara, Veera, Adbhuta and Shanta rasas. And I'm sure Johnny knows how to say the same in Yiddish.
My sense is Lennie Tristano especially would be captivated by Johnny's inspired curations, both of them finding much substance and subtle meaning in musical realms often overlooked by others.
If you wish to experience a higher level of taste in music than previously believed humanly possible, tune into Johnny Magnus pitching for Swing Time on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7 AM to 10 AM PST on kjazz. He is a walking revelation, and the type of creative miracle Los Angeles is known for spawning from time to time, night and day.
- Michael Robinson, August 2020, Los Angeles
© 2020 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).