Believing that Jus’ Jazz is the best alternative source of information pertaining to pre-recorded jazz music has opened many jazz activated opportunities for the website. Turning you on to jazz music you would love to hear has been the premise and as such is the case, we want to acquaint you with a young lady who is truly an awesome keyboardist. Gail Johnson’s latest release entitled Pearls on the NuGroove Record Label is a true gem of an album, one that displays many of the characteristics associated with a good sounding well-rounded jazz recording. In many ways, Gail’s style is reminiscent of former Blackbyrds’ keyboardist Kevin Toney; however, that is where the comparison stops. In her own way, Gail has a style of play that is hers alone, while caring a sound quality that is fresh, vibrant and thoroughly entertaining. To say that she is an undercover artist and the best-kept secret in jazz is definitely an understatement by any measure of interpretation. By most analogies, Gail Johnson would be categorized as a smooth jazz artist; but well beyond that nomenclature, her originality and sense of purpose propels her into an inner circle of specialized contemporary artists.
Pearls is a recording that reaches out and immediately touches the very essence of one’s listening palate. With pluralistic assistance from a very select group of merry men that includes guitarist Norman Brown, keyboardist James Lloyd, saxophonist Marion Meadows, bassist Nelson Braxton, multi-instrumentalist/producer Paul Brown and a host of other notable musicians, Gail Johnson runs the gamut of conceptionalized sound. There are numerous inferences of R&B, soul and stylized contemporary jazz interwoven throughout the release. The sweet melodic grooves, coupled with an underlayment of strategic rhythms and harmonizing nuances has created a jam-packed dessert filled of auditory delights. Overall, it can be said Gail Johnson has pulled the plug on the mundane and drained the pool of the expected. Instead, ‘Pearls’ is a well-rounded CD that is just as endearing as every time it is played. On top of that, Gail is also an extremely delightful individual with an endearing persona about herself.At a concert in Houston, Texas where she and flutist Althea René were appearing as the opening act for saxophonist Kenny G, I had an opportunity to meet Ms. Johnson for the first time. With a smile that lights up the universe, her persona is very unassuming and engaging. As talented as she is, Gail was philosophical about her talent and the difficulty that she as a jazz artist has in finding a consistent audience base. But in listening to her speak; her objective is to push the envelope of creativity, without compromising her talent and overall perspective. To experience her CD and see her in a live setting for the very first time has added spice to my list of memorable experiences. I now consider myself an avid fan of Gail Johnson’s with an anticipation of greater things to come for this super lady on keyboards. Make no mistake about it; Pearls is an endearingly pleasant jazz activated sound energy ray of excitement, one that can be played many times over with the same level of enjoyment.