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Album Review

George V. Johnson, Jr.: Next In Line!

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George V. Johnson, Jr.: Next In Line!
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 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 sound bite: Opening Night; My Little Suede Shoes; Star Eyes; Nigerian ju ju Highlife; Gingerbread Boy; Freedom Jazz Dance; Bitches Brew.

Personnel

George V. Johnson, Jr.: voice / vocals; Arnold Sterling: saxophone, alto; Bernard Samuel: piano; Herman Foster: piano; Mark Johnson: drums; Victor Jones: drums; Tommie McKenzie: bass.

Album information

Title: Next In Line! | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Your Majesty Records

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