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$25 CD

Includes: Shipping & Handling (USA)

Cashapp: $Georgevjohnsonjr

PayPal: wdcjazzn@yahoo.com

Knarrative Will Set Us Free | Walk Spirit Talk Spirit 
Review by: Steven Azami
03/08/22 (Radio Airplay)

George V. Johnson Jr voice * 
Elijah Easton saxophone * 
Donvonte McCoy trumpet * 
Allyn Johnson piano * 
Herman Burney bass * 
Dana-j Hawkins drums

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Washington D.C. jazz artist George V Johnson Jr delivers an exhilarating bit of vocal bebop, with his release of "Knarrative Will Set Us Free." Written in homage to the late pianist and frequent John Coltrane collaborator McCoy Tyner, this track features a fiery rhythm section built around a piano vamp that's very much in Tyner's style and spirit. Johnson's voice is in fine form here as he delivers an inclusive message of equity and unity, punctuated by strikingly passionate and inventive and trumpet. An extended solo section, passed first between the horns and then the piano and drums, fills out the midsection before a final chorus fades into a whisper, rounding out this dynamic arrangement. Jazz aficionados absolutely need to check out George V Johnson's "Knarrative Will Set Us Free", particularly fans of bop and vocal jazz.

Strong Point(s):   Outstanding production, excellent mix, piano features prominently in the overall mix, which was a great choice. You definitely captured McCoy Tyner's oeuvre here. Fantastic band, amazing chemistry and support. Nice melody and repetition with the vocal. I really liked the 2nd voice, gives the lyrics a sort of polytextural and polyrhythmic feel. Solos were all off the chart, particularly the piano. Love the little diminuendo at the end. Again, an exceptional ensemble of highly talented musicians, playing with great energy and enthusiasm. Stellar track, all around. Truly an honor to have had the opportunity to review!

Knarrative Will Set Us Free | Walk Spirit Talk Spirit Review by: Steven Azami 03/08/22 (Radio Airplay)

George V. Johnson Jr voice * Elijah Easton saxophone * Donvonte McCoy trumpet * Allyn Johnson piano * Herman Burney bass * Dana-j Hawkins drums

Washington D.C. jazz artist George V Johnson Jr delivers an exhilarating bit of vocal bebop, with his release of "Knarrative Will Set Us Free." Written in homage to the late pianist and frequent John Coltrane collaborator McCoy Tyner, this track features a fiery rhythm section built around a piano vamp that's very much in Tyner's style and spirit. Johnson's voice is in fine form here as he delivers an inclusive message of equity and unity, punctuated by strikingly passionate and inventive and trumpet. An extended solo section, passed first between the horns and then the piano and drums, fills out the midsection before a final chorus fades into a whisper, rounding out this dynamic arrangement. Jazz aficionados absolutely need to check out George V Johnson's "Knarrative Will Set Us Free", particularly fans of bop and vocal jazz.

Strong Point(s):   Outstanding production, excellent mix, piano features prominently in the overall mix, which was a great choice. You definitely captured McCoy Tyner's oeuvre here. Fantastic band, amazing chemistry and support. Nice melody and repetition with the vocal. I really liked the 2nd voice, gives the lyrics a sort of polytextural and polyrhythmic feel. Solos were all off the chart, particularly the piano. Love the little diminuendo at the end. Again, an exceptional ensemble of highly talented musicians, playing with great energy and enthusiasm. Stellar track, all around. Truly an honor to have had the opportunity to review!

The edict that drives Knarrative is this one question, inspired by a Sonia Sanchez play: "uh-huh, but how do it free us?!" George Johnson has captured that directive with "Knarrative Will Set Us Free!"~Karen Hunter, founder of Knarrative.

Welcome to Knarrative Home to the Largest Africana Studies Class in the World!!

Sign Up Today! www.Knarrative.com www.karenhuntershow.com Monday to Friday 3 - 6 pm www.siriusxm.com

The edict that drives Knarrative is this one question, inspired by a Sonia Sanchez play: "uh-huh, but how do it free us?!" George Johnson has captured that directive with "Knarrative Will Set Us Free!"~Karen Hunter, founder of Knarrative.

Welcome to Knarrative Home to the Largest Africana Studies Class in the World!!

Sign Up Today! www.Knarrative.com www.karenhuntershow.com Monday to Friday 3 - 6 pm www.siriusxm.com

So deeply appreciative of you, Baba George! You are a real life CULTURE HERO! Asante Sana for a full and ongoing life of deep study, engagement, creativity and powerful uniting expression. We listen to you DAILY!

Walk Spirit Talk Spirit Knarrative Will Set Us Free!

Dr. Greg Carr Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University and Adjunct Faculty at the Howard School of Law

www.Knarrative.com

Home of the Largest Africana Studies Class in the world!

So deeply appreciative of you, Baba George! You are a real life CULTURE HERO! Asante Sana for a full and ongoing life of deep study, engagement, creativity and powerful uniting expression. We listen to you DAILY!

Walk Spirit Talk Spirit Knarrative Will Set Us Free!

Dr. Greg Carr Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University and Adjunct Faculty at the Howard School of Law

www.Knarrative.com

Home of the Largest Africana Studies Class in the world!

GRAVY TRAIN 
By Lou Donaldson
All Aboard The Gravy Train!
Lyrics by George V Johnson Jr 
All Aboard The Gravy Train!

Review by 
Andre Avanessian
03/31/22 (UK)

There are times when nothing quite hits the spot like a hearty serving of ultra-cool-sounding big band jazz, and George V Johnson Jr has most certainly whisked up a truly satisfying slice of the genre with his tremendously catchy and gloriously groove enriched "All Aboard The Gravy Train". Led by a wonderfully charismatic and flamboyant lead vocal performance by George himself and supported by a truly tantalizing backing band, this is one of those tracks that you need to let hug you with its hip and flavorsome melodic creativity and towering sense of flair.

Some tracks can feel very much like a recording whilst others can feel very much like a performance, by this I mean that whilst some songs are technically perfect in every conceivable way, they can lack a certain human element, a spark that makes the track feel truly alive. 

Now, on the other hand, you have a track that feels like a true performance, there's a level of excitement and energy there that is hard to describe, but it feels wholly authentic and creatively free, I believe "All Aboard The Gravy Train" to be one of those very tracks. 

Now, this is certainly not to say that this isn't a solid recording because it is, but George and co bring this certain sense of unbridled passion and love for the music they're creating that is so utterly infectious that as a listener you can't help but begin to move to the track's body swaying groove. 

George gives a marvelous vocal performance that embodies the spirit of the classic Jazz singers brilliantly and has cooked up some wonderfully upbeat and fun lyrics that compliment his vocal style extremely well. 

The intimate relationship between the vocals and backing band can really be felt and helps give the arrangement this great sense of dynamism, the way George and his fellow musicians interact with one another is an absolute joy to listen to, these really are musicians on the top of their game and its makes for a thoroughly compelling listening experience.

With its engaging instrumental interludes, enthralling performances, and abundance of melody, "All Aboard The Gravy Train" most certainly hits the spot. It's Grammy Time!!

GRAVY TRAIN By Lou Donaldson All Aboard The Gravy Train! Lyrics by George V Johnson Jr All Aboard The Gravy Train!

Review by Andre Avanessian 03/31/22 (UK)

There are times when nothing quite hits the spot like a hearty serving of ultra-cool-sounding big band jazz, and George V Johnson Jr has most certainly whisked up a truly satisfying slice of the genre with his tremendously catchy and gloriously groove enriched "All Aboard The Gravy Train". Led by a wonderfully charismatic and flamboyant lead vocal performance by George himself and supported by a truly tantalizing backing band, this is one of those tracks that you need to let hug you with its hip and flavorsome melodic creativity and towering sense of flair.

Some tracks can feel very much like a recording whilst others can feel very much like a performance, by this I mean that whilst some songs are technically perfect in every conceivable way, they can lack a certain human element, a spark that makes the track feel truly alive.

Now, on the other hand, you have a track that feels like a true performance, there's a level of excitement and energy there that is hard to describe, but it feels wholly authentic and creatively free, I believe "All Aboard The Gravy Train" to be one of those very tracks.

Now, this is certainly not to say that this isn't a solid recording because it is, but George and co bring this certain sense of unbridled passion and love for the music they're creating that is so utterly infectious that as a listener you can't help but begin to move to the track's body swaying groove.

George gives a marvelous vocal performance that embodies the spirit of the classic Jazz singers brilliantly and has cooked up some wonderfully upbeat and fun lyrics that compliment his vocal style extremely well.

The intimate relationship between the vocals and backing band can really be felt and helps give the arrangement this great sense of dynamism, the way George and his fellow musicians interact with one another is an absolute joy to listen to, these really are musicians on the top of their game and its makes for a thoroughly compelling listening experience.

With its engaging instrumental interludes, enthralling performances, and abundance of melody, "All Aboard The Gravy Train" most certainly hits the spot. It's Grammy Time!!

RUSTY HASSAN

Broadcasting Since 1966

George V. Johnson has had an incredible journey leading up to this recording and I have been a witness to the ride since the beginning in the 1970s. The title “Your Majesty” comes from John Malachi who mentored George when he was getting started with his vocalese. Not hip to John Malachi? If your listening to the music of George Johnson, you probably are, but just in case…  

John Malachi was born in North Carolina but grew up in Washington, DC. As a teenager he and fellow pianist Billy Taylor would check out Jelly Roll Morton at the Jungle Inn on U Street. One of his closest friends was Thomas Barrett, my wife Sondra’s dad. John’s talent was such that Billy Eckstine recruited him to be the pianist in the band he was forming in 1944 which included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Gene Ammons, Art Blakey and Sarah Vaughan,. John gave her the name "Sassy".

 

He was an integral participant in the creation of bebop. I would be the fly on the wall listening to stories about Mr. B’s band and the exploits of Diz, Bird and Dex whenever Tom Barrett and John Malachi would get together. 

 Around 1974 guitarist Bill Harris opened a club in Northeast Washington DC called Pigfoot where John would preside as the pianist to accompany such artists as Kenny Burrell, Al Hibbler, Arthur Prysock, Milton "Smitty" Smith, Clea Bradford, Frank Foster, Billy Mitchell, Leon Thomas and many more. He conducted workshops for aspiring musicians and vocalists. His prize student was a Metro bus driver named George V. Johnson Jr.

 

I was broadcasting the New Thing Root Music Show on WAMU at that time and lived in the neighborhood of Pigfoot. Shirley Horn lived a few blocks away on Lawrence Street and Andrew White down South Dakota Avenue. Bill Harris’s club was a center of jazz activity and George was in the midst of it. John introduced him to his close friends such as Art Blakey, Lou Donaldson and Eddie Jefferson. He would tape interviews that I did on the air with such prominent musicians as Dexter Gordon and others. 

 

George and John developed such a close friendship that he introduced him as Your Majesty George V Johnson Jr "Opening Night" during his debut and professional concert at the Pigfoot. George made it his mantra and thus the title for this album.

Under John’s tutelage George was working on what is called in jazz circles vocalese, singing a lyric to what was originally an improvised solo by an instrumentalist. The father of vocalese is Eddie Jefferson who wrote and sang lyrics to James Moody’s instrumental version of “I’m In The Mood For Love,” later known as “Moody’s Mood For Love.” King Pleasure recorded and had a hit with it, but Jefferson gained recognition by recording and touring with Moody. Other singers who have utilized vocalese include Lambert, Hendricks & Ross and Manhattan Transfer. Jefferson performed frequently with Richie Cole in DC in the 1970s and when he heard George Johnson perform he was so impressed with his vocalese that he tagged him “Next In Line.” 

 

George’s journey took him to Europe in 1979 with a Howard University 6 month tour of the musical “Raisin.” It was while in Paris on May 9th that he received a telegram from Bill Harris informing him that Eddie Jefferson had been murdered in Detroit. Upon his return to the States and a tribute to Jefferson at Blues Alley, George took a train to New York and scuffled, frequently sleeping on the subway but catching as many performances as he could and making connections – Lou Donaldson, Harold Mabern, Barry Harris, George Coleman, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Cobb, Benny Golson – the heavy hitters of the music. Leon Thomas introduced him to Pharoah Sanders who had him sing his original lyrics to John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice” on his album “Rejoice” in 1981. James Moody brought him into his group to tour 8 years in 1979.

 

 Another day gig, this time with New Jersey Transit paid the bills and supported his family while living in that state for the next couple of decades, all the while continuing to perform and write lyrics. Retirement from the railroad has allowed him devote full time to his music with a return to DC as his home base. (There was some time in Detroit, but that’s another story for his autobiography.)

 

It has been incredible journey leading up to “Your Majesty” and as George opens “Gravy Train” all aboard for some great music. For this recording he has assembled some of the finest musicians from the Washington metropolitan area. Pianist Allyn Johnson provided the setting with his Divine Order Recording Studio and demonstrated his incredible chops on all of the numbers. He directs the jazz program at the University of the District of Columbia and is the most in demand pianist in the area. Donvonte McCoy is on trumpet. He has performed with artists diverse such as Lionel Hampton, Jason Moran and Aretha Franklin. Elijah Easton is the saxophonist whose youthful dynamism on the date demonstrates that the music is in good hands for the next generation. Herman Burney is the bassist on half the session; Steve Arnold on the other. Steve came to DC from Massachusetts to attend George Washington University. Herman was his bass instructor. Baltimore native Dana-j Hawkins attended Berklee and was the drummer with the late NEA Jazz Master Dr. Lonnie Smith and with Ravi Coltrane. 

 

The album opens with “Knarrative Will Set Us Free (Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit)” by McCoy Tyner. George’s lyrics reflect on Knarrative, the Africana studies project to provide African Americans and the African Diaspora with quality curated information. It was inspired by DrGregCarr, and Professor KarenHunter | Knarrative, Allyn takes McCoy’s influence and then distills it into his own style. George demonstrates that he can make philosophy swing.

 

 “All Aboard The Gravy Train” is part of the lineage that goes back to Duke Ellington’s “Daybreak Express” and James Moody’s “Last Train From Overbrook.” Lou Donaldson’s contribution t the genre is certainly appropriate given the decades long friendship between the two and George’s experience as a conductor. All Aboard indeed – it’s a great ride!

 

 In 2003 DonSickler commissioned George to write lyrics to the music of saxophonist Hank Mobley. I remember it well because I collaborated on the project. George borrowed a number of my Mobley recordings, my contribution to his work. The 20 CDs have long been back in my collection, but George has completed writing words to over 40 of Mobley’s compositions. “Squares Stay Out (No Room For Squares)” is from this important and extensive project presenting jazz vocalese. All of the musicians are in great form on this hard bop classic.     

 

 The journey continues with Wes Montgomery’s “Music Round The World (Road Song)” and McCoy Tyner’s “Come Fly Away With Me (Fly With The Wind).” Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloup Island” is the only song for which George did not write the lyrics but he sure does a remarkable vocalese with Mark Murphy’s. Bird Lives on “Go Moose The Mooch,” a bebop romp. John Malachi would be proud of what George Johnson has done to preserve Charlie Parker’s legacy.

 

 “Jive Samba” was a big hit for Cannonball Adderly when his brother Nat added some funk to the bossa nova. George and the cats take it beyond Rio into the stratosphere.

 

 It has been quite a journey for George V. Johnson to get to “Your Majesty.” Enjoy the ride he takes you through his music on this album.

 

Written by RustyHassan 

 

 

 

 

NEA JAZZ MASTER 
Benny Golson on the Artistry of George V Johnson Jr 

www.bennygolson.com

NEA JAZZ MASTER Benny Golson on the Artistry of George V Johnson Jr

www.bennygolson.com