November 26, 2007


George V. Johnson Jr is a talented young jazz vocalist that specializes in a brand of jazz singing popularized most notably by Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson called Vocalese. In fact, the title of this CD, Next in Line bring to bear the very words uttered by Eddie Jefferson (heard in the opening seconds of the disc) proclaiming his protege' George V. Johnson as the successor to the throne. On this CD, Johnson sings with exuberance on a number of varied standards, including tunes by Charlie Parker, Jimmy Heath, and Miles Davis.
The original “Opening Night” laments the lack of recognition that the major record companies give to serious aspiring jazz artists, and will strike a chord with every jazz musician that has ever solcited a record company in hopes of a record deal. Johnson has a smooth, graceful, and soulful style, and is supported very well in this regard by bandmates that can groove alongside, and underneath him. George V. Johnson shows us on Next In Line that he is a man dedicated to the art of song and singing, bringing forth both tradition and intuition. The promise first heard over twenty years ago is finally seeing the light of day, as Johnson is can be heard scatin' and singin' the night away. It's as if he was singing the world a lullaby; giving it everything he's got, and asking nothing in return. George V. Johnson Jr. The “V” is for Vocalese .

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. (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)

Considering himself the musical offspring of the highly entertaining jazz singer Eddie Jefferson, George V. Johnson, Jr.'s common surname has sometimes led to confusion, particulary in the early days of his career when neither the middle initial nor "junior" status were attached to his credits. Some discographers thus see a double image in which a man named George Johnson was involved in modern jazz singing projects, including credits for vocal arrangements in 1979. Then along comes George V. Johnson, Jr. a few years later, hanging in for the long haul and finally enjoying the benefit of releases under his own name with the ironically titled Next in Line in 2000.

Not to be confused with scat singing, which consists of nonsense syllables and sounds, this vocalist belongs to a singing tradition in which lyrics are concocted to fit the ebb and flow of a jazz soloist's performance, often including the original improvised horn solo. While Johnson, Jr.'s excellent efforts included a version of John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" for one of Pharoah Sanders' highly-praised Evidence recording dates in the early '80s, the singer's efforts were reduced to part-time status for a good portion of the ensuing decades due to having to hold a day job. Nonetheless, he performed regularly as part of the James Moody group, a fitting setting since after all it was where Jefferson himself had been featured quite regularly. After the release of not one but two discs under his own name in 2000 Johnson, Jr. apparently decided to notch up his efforts and try to make it as a fulltime performer

No comments: