Organic, the latest CD from Henry Johnson is a return to the guitarist's roots, to the most basic concepts of jazz and blues, but taking the organ combo concept into new areas with more difficult tunes and modern arrangements. There's no funny business in the studio either; Johnson is such a formidable player that overdubs and other studio trickery are not required to deliver the kind of jazz once pounded out by the likes of Jack McDuff. Johnson also invited Nancy Wilson to sing guest vocals on four of the tracks, giving the album a well-rounded quality destined to broaden its overall appeal. Guitar fans will appreciate Johnson's sophisticated rhythm accompaniment, his sensual embellishments and of course his fluent, single-line excursions that reveal a new surprise around the bend of each phrase. Organic is simply the latest entry in the long list of standout recordings Johnson now finds in his growing discography. Henry Johnson was originally profiled in the December-January, 2003 edition of The Undiscovered.
Chicago-born Henry Johnson began playing at age twelve. While spending some formative time in Memphis, he started playing gospel music at age thirteen. By age fourteen, Johnson was playing in R&B groups. Although Johnson's parents brought him up hearing the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Williams, and other artists of that era, it was not until 1967 that Johnson was formally introduced to jazz by hearing guitarist Wes Montgomery. In 1969, Johnson and his family then moved back to Chicago where he developed a reputation on the south side as a local jazz guitarist. In 1976, he went on the road with jazz organist Jack McDuff and had the good fortune to work with vocalist, Donny Hathaway in 1977. "You're The One", his recording debut for MCA/Impulse! achieved #1 status on both the Radio & Records NAC chart, and Contemporary Jazz chart for two months-a rare occurrences for a first recording. This recording also won a five star rating in Downbeat magazine, and was nominated for a Grammy.
Johnson's follow-up recordings, "Future Excursions" and "Never Too Much" also reached the top of the charts."New Beginnings", was Johnson's debut recording for the Heads Up International jazz label. Johnson's music has been a favorite at radio stations world wide since the release of his very first CD, "You're the One" on MCA/Impulse! and the appeal of his music continued with the release of his second recording for Heads Up International, entitled "Missing You".
Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services
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