Gail Jhonson - Keep The Music Playing


I asked Gail if here last name would be Johnson or Jhonson. She told me Johnson would be her real name and Jhonson her stage-name. Unusual like her name is her music. No, she is no newcomer. She already played with Pink, Minako Honda, Norman Brown, Vanessa Williams, Mindy Abair, Jermaine Jackson, Morris Day, Bobby Womack, Ray Parker jr., Vesta, Howard Hewitt, Bobby Lyle, Brian Culbertson, OC Smith, Paul Jackson jr., Pamela Williams, Phil Perry and Milli Vanilli. So you can expect professionalism. Her pun is also remarkable. She  released her album under the label "Philly The Kid Music". Born and raised in the city of Philadelphia she found her new home in L.A., where she is currently working as music director with Norman Brown/Warner Brothers Records. She is also pianist, songwriter, author, piano teacher, producer and more. Oh, I forget something important: She is also mother of a lovely child.

After this short intro, we should immediately direct our attention on her new child "Keep The Music Playing". This album is to good to be just a tip for insiders. 
The Intro opens with a short dialogue between Gail & Genie. They discuss about practicing. Gail's daughter asks "Why practicing anyway?" 

The answer is Gail's perfect piano playing on Just For Kicks. Gail's performance is smooth and floating, no interruption. It's sound easy but experienced listeners will immediately recognize her skillful touch. Norman Brown (guitar) and James Manning (bass) are professional accompanists. Gail has written "Funk Keyboards / the Complete Method". No, she has not learn her lessons anymore. She is the impersonation of her own book. 

Who don't know Heaven. This tune is absolutely classic. Bebe & Cece Winans produced this incredible song for their self-titled album in 1988. Gail's version is very close to the original but in some parts she breaks into a gallop in a breathtaking way. Magnificent!

How Do You Keep The Music Playing is another classic tune originally written by Alan Bergman and his wife Marilyn and composed by Michael Legrand for the movie "Best Friends" (1982). Already performed by such illuminated artists like Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand, George Benson, Patti Austin, Shirley Bassey, James Ingram, Gail's piano interpretation is certainly the best choice.

Soleh (The Sun's Ray) is a typical midtempo contemporary jazz tune with a modest mood but excellent performance. She is accompanied by Norman Brown (guitar) and Sekou Bunch (bass). Sekou also played with Tom Brownie, Bernard Wright, George Howard, Stephanie Mills, Angela Winbush and more. My albums with Sekou Bunch are Rayford Griffin's "Rebirth Of The Cool" and "Forever, for Always, for Luther".

I Wanna Luv U is featuring the singer Charlia Boyer in a beautiful love song. Charlia also appeared on Coolio's albums "C U When U Get There" and "My Soul" and the Gospel album "Bow Down and Worship Him". She deserves some more presentation.

I'll Be Around is a classic R&B song which was already performed by Regina Bell (Reachin' Back), William Bell (Bedtime Stories) Randy Crawford (Naked and True). Originally the song was performed by the Spinners on their hit-album "The Spinners" in 1972. The song was written by Thom Bell, one of the creators of the Philly Sound. Gail's seductive piano  complete with sighing strings sounds pleasant but she should prefer her self-composed productions.

Gimme You Groove is a good example for what I mean. Pamela Williams's saxophone and Gail's piano are a dream pair. Pamela Williams is famous by her albums Saxtress, Eight Days of Ecstasy, Evolution and The Perfect Love. The finest enrichment for Gail's album I can imagine. I love this tune!!! By the way Gail has written 3 tunes for Pamela's album Evolution ("Lifeline, Evolution and Smooth").

Goodnight is a slow and contemplative song. Gail comments: "It was one of the ones I did alone, like “How do you keep the music playing”, but that one was written by Michel Legrand.  There you have it, a nice evening song to wind down on while listening. Hope you have a good nite!" Let me summarize: Gail plays piano, percussion, guitar, pizzicato violins, keyboards. Not bad at all!

Sunrise is featuring the falsetto vocals of the gifted singer Vidais Lovette. Never heard of him? Neither I. This song is smoooooth! Pamela Williams and Gail are staying in the background.

Take What You Need is pushed by a rim shot drive which is running through the whole piece. Gail is soloing in perfect manner backed with Henry "Soleh" Brewers sensitive organatic background.

If you await calypso rhythm on Tropical Island, you are wrong. Nevertheless it's dream stuff. Pamela Williams and Gail are doing a fantastic job jamming and improvising. And the echo sounder tone as loop hits the point.

I whole-heartedly recommend Gail Jhonson's debut album and instantly hope it will not be the last. 



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