A student of the late Eddie Jefferson, Washington, D.C.-based vocalist George V. Johnson takes his cue from Jefferson's later (1970's) sound with a repertoire drawn largely from the contemporaneous Miles Davis book. The versatile Johnson whose resume includes acting, teaching, and producing wrote lyrics (mainly vocalese) for five of the tunes. "Freedom Jazz Dance," the most evolved performance, includes scat singing, a long tap dance (by Prat), Leon Thomas effects, and an abstraction of "Shortnin' Bread."
Johnson adapts words to musical sequences. For example on the familiar "Bitches Brew" two-note fading echo he intones "Watch Out! Watch Out! Watch Out! Watch Out!" and "Beware! Beware! Beware! Beware!" A Charlie Parker lick on "Star Eyes" comes out as "A lovely woman you are." He brings energy, enthusiasm, and confidence to his music, qualities that inspire his accompanying musicians. Unlike the many singers who hog the spotlight Johnson allows the others, notably saxophonists Arnold Sterling and Siraj, plenty of space to stretch out.
The CD sound quality is erratic.
Eddie Jefferson sound bite: Opening Night; My Little Suede Shoes; Star Eyes; Nigerian ju ju Highlife; Gingerbread Boy; Freedom Jazz Dance; Bitches Brew.
George V. Johnson Jr. (vocals); Tina Prat (jazz tap); Arnold Sterling (alto sax); Bernard Samuel (piano); Herman Foster (piano); Tom Mc Kenzie (bass); Mark Johnson (drums); Victor Jones (drums)