George V. Johnson, Jr.: Next In Line
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Following in the footsteps of Eddie Jefferson, vocalese singer George Johnson brings us a program of familiar bop tunes with original ideas for his solo debut. On the opening track, Jefferson’s voice can be heard introducing Johnson as "one of my students... from Washington DC. Next in line."
Information at www.trentonjazz.com indicates that Johnson got his start thirty years ago with pianist John Malachi. He later worked regularly with James Moody, performed in musical shows such as Raisin when it toured Europe, and with his own ensemble Your Majesty. The web site has pointers to MP3 samples from Johnson’s Next In Line.
The album, which runs for 40 minutes, features Johnson’s crystal clear vocal style patterned after pioneer Eddie Jefferson. "My Little Suede Shoes" and "Star Eyes" contain familiar note-for-note vocalese transcriptions, while "Opening Night" and "Nigerian ju ju Highlife" present new and original ideas. Live tracks "Freedom Jazz Dance" and "Bitches Brew" introduce crowd-pleasing excitement that makes the session memorable. Johnson receives stellar support from his ensembles, particularly from saxophonist Siraj on Jimmy Heath’s "Gingerbread Boy." Vocalese may be over 50 years old already, but the art remains as exciting as ever; particularly in the hands of talented performers such as George Johnson.
Track Listing: Eddie Jefferson; Opening Night; My Little Suede Shoes; Star Eyes; Nigerian ju ju Highlife; Gingerbread Boy; Freedom Jazz Dance; Bitches Brew.Collective
Personnel: George V. Johnson, Jr.- vocalese; Arnold Sterling- alto sax; Siraj- alto sax, tenor sax; Bernard Samuel, Herman Foster- piano; Tom McKenzie- bass; Mark Johnson, Victor Jones- drums; Tina Prat- jazz tap on "Freedom Jazz Dance;" Roy Brooks & The Artistic Truth- instrumental ensemble on "Bitches Brew."
Record Label: Your Majesty Records