114

Ellen Johnson: These Days

Ernest Barteldes By

Sign in to view read count
Ellen Johnson: These Days Chicago-raised vocalist and educator Ellen Johnson emerges with a disc that explores her vast range and improvisational technique without attempting to sound pretentious, an all-too-common trait among jazz vocalists. This is evident throughout These Days, but most specifically on bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz' bossa nova-tinged "Inspiration, a wordless tune which features Brazilian percussionist Ana Gazzola on shakers and guitarist Larry Koonse; Johnson sings the melody with incredible softness, going even softer during the guitarist's accomplished solo for a unique backdrop.

Another moment worth mentioning is her treatment of the Jackson Browne title track. While the original has more of an acoustic folk approach, Johnson uses the melody to showcase her vocal chops, Koonse again shining with clever riffs and a subtle solo. Maybe the only weak track is "I Feel The Same, Johnson's trumpet-like vocal failing to impress though kudos to Oleszkiewicz' accompaniment, the heart and soul of an otherwise lackluster tune.

This does not outshine other great points, such as Antonio Carlos Jobim/Billy Blanco's "Esperança Perdida, sung both in Portuguese and English (lyrics provided by Ray Gilbert) or Johnson's playful original lyrics to Charles Mingus' "Noddin' Ya Head Blues done as a vocal/bass duet. Also appealing is the original "Little Messenger, a spoken-word poem (featured as a bonus track) dedicated to Sheila Jordan, who provides clever vocal improvisation in the background.

These Days is a highly enjoyable disc that needs several spins in order to be properly grasped. Maybe because of Johnson's academic background (she teaches at the University of San Diego), the disc might come off as a bit hard to feel at first, but if you just allow yourself to enjoy it, the pleasure of the listening experience will be that much greater .


Track Listing: These Days; No Moon At All; The Crossing; Inspiration; I Feel The Same; Noddin' Ya Head Blues; Esperanca Perdida (I Was Just One More For You); Who Knows Where the Time Goes; If I Should Lose You; You Don't Know What Love Is; Nostalgia In Times Square; Little Messenger (For Sheila Jordan).

Personnel: Ellen Johnson: vocals; Derek Oles: bass; Larry Koonse: guitar; Roy McCurdy: drums; Ana Gazzola: percussion; Sheila Jordan: guest vocals.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Vocal Visions | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Beam Me Up" CD/LP/Track Review Beam Me Up
by Dave Wayne
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "The Caustic Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review The Caustic Ballads
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "Find Your Wings" CD/LP/Track Review Find Your Wings
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "A Matter Of Instinct" CD/LP/Track Review A Matter Of Instinct
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 20, 2016
Read "Duopoly" CD/LP/Track Review Duopoly
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!