by Gail Jhonson


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There is both good news and bad news where Gail Jhonson's Pearls is concerned. The good news: Jhonson is a talented pianist, keyboardist and composer who gets a lot of direct or indirect inspiration from artists like Joe Sample, George Duke, Lonnie Liston Smith, Herbie Hancock and Rodney Franklin -- 1970s pianists/keyboardists who had serious jazz chops but also liked to get funky. The bad news: Pearls, like a lot of smooth jazz releases, is usually too produced for its own good. Going for a lot of production is fine if your focus is electronica, hip-hop or dance music, but Jhonson's focus is a mixture of jazz, R&B and pop. While Pearls isn't meant to be straight-ahead hard bop by any means, jazz is still an important part of the picture -- and if you are trying to bring together jazz, R&B and pop the way that, say, Sample did on Carmel, the soloist shouldn't be smothered by the production. The soloist should have some breathing room, which is something that Jhonson doesn't have nearly enough of on Pearls. That said, there are some attractive grooves on this 46-minute CD -- and when Jhonson has enough room to stretch out and improvise, one catches some glimpses of what she is capable of as a soloist. Take "Whisper Yours" and "Let's Do This," for example. On those tracks, Jhonson is not suffocated by an excess of production and programming; as a result, she achieves a healthy balance of melodic accessibility and jazz spontaneity. Unfortunately, too many of the other selections downplay her skills as a soloist. Pearls has its moments, but Jhonson is capable of a lot more.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/29/2008
Label: Nu Groove Records
UPC: 0893422002024
catalogNumber: 2002

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gail Jhonson   Primary Artist,Piano,Keyboards
Marion Meadows   Saxophone
Sekou Bunch   Bass
Michael Vail Blum   Background Vocals
James K. Lloyd   Keyboards
Donald Tavie   Keyboards
Nelson Braxton   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards
L. Cheryl Taylor   Background Vocals
Travis Milner   Keyboards
Paul Rayner-Brown   Guitar
James Lloyd   Keyboards
L. Taylor   Background Vocals
F. Clark-Kent   Guitar

Technical Credits

James K. Lloyd   Producer,drum programming
Donald Tavie   Producer,drum programming,Audio Production
Nelson Braxton   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
J.B. Floyd   Engineer
Travis Milner   Composer,Producer,Engineer,drum programming,Audio Production
Craig Neely   Management
James Lloyd   drum programming,Audio Production
Gail Jhonson   Composer,Programming,Producer,drum programming,Art Direction,Audio Production

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