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Marcus Johnson: The Phoenix

There’s not much to dislike on pianist Marcus Johnson’s new light jazz-funk and R&B CD, unless of course you don’t like light jazz-funk and R&B. Like all of his music, there’s much to enjoy, especially when he steps out of his comfort zone on the club/electronica vibe of “Side Steppin'” and the tropical muse of “Road to Los Suenos” with Nikki Gonzalez’s “ba-ba-ba” vocalese. More predictable are the vocal tunes: the quiet storm of Raheem DeVaughn’s “Believe” with vocalist Jarian Felton and the bouncy “Love” with Frank McComb. Don’t forget Johnson’s mid-groove ballads like “My Caddy” and “Potomac Ridge,” which are pleasantly unassuming in their, well, pleasantness.

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