Sound Observations with Gail Jhonson

Saturday, April 23, 2011 12:04
Posted in category Interviews, Upcoming Shows

By David Moye

There’s an old saying that good leaders make good followers.

Never believed it myself. Seems good leaders make lousy followers because they are always gunning to be leaders.

Gail Jhonson

Gail Jhonson

But since jazz pianist Gail Jhonson has had experience both as a leader and backing up artists like Morris Day, Bobby Womack, Pink, Norman Brown, Vanessa Williams, Dave Koz, Jermaine Jackson and Sheila E., it seems like she may have the answer.

She does.

“Honestly, if you do have a vision, go with it,” said Jhonson, who will be at Anthology April 28. “But if you’re not sure, it’s best to be a follower.

“For me, in hindsight, I should have just got in there. I should have more confidence in my abilities, but I thought I could never be another Oscar Peterson or Herbie Hancock.

“Still, it was good to be under the tutelage.”

Jhonson, who got her start in 1985 backing up funk artist Morris Day, waited until 2004 to make her debut as a solo artist.

It was worth the wait, as “Keep The Music Playing” had two big contemporary jazz hits: “Heaven” and “Just For Kicks.”

Playing contemporary jazz is a good medium for Jhonson because it allows her to straddle the line between rhythm and melody.

“I enjoy both the jazz world and R&B world,” she said. “I approach contemporary jazz — or smooth jazz — like Grover Washington, Jr.: I keep the jazz melodies and the funk rhythms. I want everyone to have a good time.”

But while some recordings in that genre have tried to have instrumentalists simply play the melody to songs that have vocals, Jhonson says that doesn’t bring out the full flavor of the music.

“You can’t just copy a vocal,” she said. “We prove that we can have a groove and a melody. I know it’s called ‘smooth jazz,’ but maybe ‘soul jazz’ is a better term.”

WHAT: Gail Jhonson
WHEN: Thursday, April 28th, 2011, 7:30pm
MORE INFO: Artist Profile
TICKETS: $10-$35 Buy Tickets