YOUR MAJESTY GEORGE ~ WALK SPIRIT TALK SPIRIT
By Robert J. Carmack- Hipster Sanctuary.com
I don’t know what it is about Jazz that makes me Astral-travel. My definition of a curated Jazz recording is, 1. Best material 2. Solid musicians 3.Willingness to “Go out on a Limb”(courage). When tackling a tour de force with powerful music and the ilk of McCoy Tyner, Nat Adderley, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley, and Lou Donaldson. What makes this project so hip and exciting is GEORGE V. JOHNSON Jr.’s vision and experience as working musician and songwriter. Right out the gate, is a big splash intro to a moving piece of history by McCoy Tyner. Walk Spirit Talk Spirit (Knarrative Will Set You Free) we lost the great one in 2020.
What George has done is take two of Tyner’s stellar compositions including “Fly with the Wind” and crafted them into masterpieces in sound and “Griot” lyrics, that tell the best stories abound.
I lived with this CD for almost a month before I even attempted to review this project in art and soul. In my humble opinion, given a generous amount of “plays” this can become a #1 jazz hit. For example, Johnson Jr’s remarkable lyrics treatment of Wes Montgomery’s ROAD SONG, a strong cut involving the stories from all around the world while traveling and experiencing life on life’s terms. I can only concur with others, who have experienced the personality and artistry of GVJ. Jr. Be sure to put on your seatbelt when you listen to NO ROOM for SQUARES” (Hank Mobley, blue note) Nat Adderley’s JIVE SAMBA, Lou Donaldson, GRAVYTRAIN (1960s soul jazz classic)
George’s sinewy jazz sound shines on all the cuts in this beautiful session with just electrifying musicianship. Band personnel are; Devonte McCoy Trumpet, Elijah Easton saxophone, Herman Burney on Bass (I met years ago in Atlanta, when he was doing a gig with CEDAR WALTON trio) Allyn John Johnson Piano, Dana J. Hawkins drums, (**Steve Arnold bass). This ensemble brings a perfect balance of Dynamics while breathing new life into these classic, iconic tunes.
George has perfect command of his jazz vocabulary, which is not surprising since, he was mentored by the best, the Grand Pop of vocalese, Eddie Jefferson, and James Moody. Eddie even claimed George was the next in-line for sheer skill and dominance in jazz vocals. Its like having a “Magic Jukebox” that plays all the best tunes and in the right order too.
Recalling the electric pace of NO ROOM for SQUARES. It immediately takes me back to when my dad brought that album home, when I was just learning saxophone. Elijah Easton lit a fire under the Band, as if they needed more fuel, in his searing white hot solo, eating up bop changes like pancakes. ”This followed by a lucid, laser-focused solo by trumpeter Devonte McCoy. Allyn Johnson “brings the pain” on all the tunes he plays on.
It’s Johnson Jr. and him alone, who places you in a cozy Jazz Inn in Western USA or, on stage in a smoky, boozy spot tucked away along the Rhine River in Europe during the 1950s..Magic! Lol!! Whether you were diggin’ Miles, Monk, Trane or Mobley, even when they walked the earth, Or, You are a modern Hipster downloading all you can making playlists.. YOU MUST FIND ROOM for YOUR Majesty! You will Hear and see what the Barons of Bop saw in George going all the way back to 1974. He’s relentless in his attack of these songs, injecting his own personal touch that hangs over you like a Dexter Gordon 32 note phrase in Bopology and swing.
One other thing, what’s up with the “YOUR MAJESTY” thing?? Lol. I’m told it was gifted to him by another mentor John Malachi. When the jazz elders give you a nickname, you wear it with pride, like a “Blue Badge of Courage” and respect.
George V. is the total package also, backgrounds in music, dance, and theater. Watching him perform onstage or just interact with the masters is a treat all in itself. www.HipsterSanctuary.com gives this effort, FOUR STARS! My highest rating. Why not grab two copies, one extra for a Pal or student trying to learn about jazz .. very approachable music even for beginners.
Walk Spirit Talk Spirit: YOUR MAJESTY ~ George V. Johnson,Jr. strikes the right chord with me. Get it at your favorite retail spot for recordings or downloads, or direct at www.georgevjohnsonjr.com.