“Life of The Party” is saxophonist Joe Johnson’s sophomore offering. The Nashville, TN native has written and produced a tasty collection of tunes anchored by a variety of familiar yet seductively fresh tracks in order to gain notoriety in the narrowing smoothjazz landscape. Nevertheless, Johnson’s undeniable passion and optimism driven by his determination to play the music that he loves is a definite blessing. His voice of enthusiasm generates a compassionate sound that will indeed garner attention to this harvest of mouth-watering yet unpretentiously fresh sounds of smooth urban jazz.


The Players: Jamie Moore ~ keyboards and drum programming, Richard Felton ~ bass, Norris Jones ~ guitar, Marvin Simms ~ percussion, Julius Fisher ~ keyboards and drum programming, Trey Johnson ~ alphabet samples and Joe Johnson ~ alto saxophone, Yamaha WX7 and keyboards, Produced by Joe Johnson, Jamie Moore and Co-produced by Julius Fisher, Yasny Labels Group, Inc © 2005


On the opening track “Juke Joint and Jams” evokes the spirit of Joe Johnson’s past, present and future passion for playing the cold steel with power and conviction.


 Sumthing, Sumthing” originally recorded by Neo Soul vocal sensation Maxwell comes next. This is a very smart move on Johnson’s behalf to add this selection to the mix after all it’s got the right hook and tempo, the kind of vibe that will generate lots of conversation amongst urban and smoothjazz listeners everywhere.


Sax-man Joe Johnson has recorded quite a few covers throughout “Life of the Party”. However, at this junction I can see that he’s without a doubt a cover song magnet; he’s extremely good at capturing the essence of what these jams are all about. Case in point: “U Know What’s Up”, its sweet, it’s hip and it’s catchy all wrapped into one envelope called Joe’s groove.


Didn’t Cha Know” is a slow jam that squeezes its way into the forth position. It’s got that perfect Quite Storm effect going on, which blends nicely with the next track titled “A Dream”.  Their chemistry sizzles in close relationship sonically to one another, which makes a nice marriage.


Now, brother Joe had to go there and cover Alicia Keys “You Don’t know My Name”. Johnson’s song selection process is on point when it comes to picking these songs to record; he’s got it like that people, seriously!


I Know Joe” is a prelude to the title track “Life of The Party”. This is Johnson’s most adventurous composition on the album and he’s without doubt defying the smoothjazz norm with this track. It’s nice, very nice indeed!


Johnson continues to navigate with purpose thru R&B playlists. This time he reworks a Roy Ayers classic “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and renames it “My Life”. I dig the vibe of this track folks; this is unquestionably one of my favorites on the project.


When I first heard “Say Yes” originally performed by the Grammy winning duo Floetry, I immediately fell in love with this tune. Johnson’s sweet and soulful playing technique draws you into the pulse of this rendition divulging his passion for love and romance for the third time around on “Life of The Party”.


Life of The Party” comes to an end with down-tempo groove titled “Come Close”. Joe wraps up this collection of music expressively with his warm and sultry yet graceful tonality that echoes sublime melodies that beckons you for another listen.


After listening to “Life of The Party”, it’s very clear to me that his musical direction is well defined with purpose and pinpoint accuracy as a marksman in hopes to possibly capture an even wider audience. The forecast for Johnson’s success as a musician looks mighty promising to me. Urban and Smoothjazz radio stations and fans alike should enjoy Joe Johnson’s soothing, hip and soulful, yet enticing blend of smooth urban jazz for years to come. After all, he is the “Life of The Party”.   






q       Visit and listen to samples at Joe Johnson’s web space: www.joejohnsonmusic.com


q       Buy his music at Amazon, Cats Records and other fine music stores.