Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Marcus Johnson: Poetically Justified

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Marcus Johnson’s a master at the sort of sophisticated, smooth piano jazz heard best underneath the chatter at late-night cocktails. But on his 11th CD he also keeps his ears tuned to what’s happening today, injecting enough urban-music staples to earn a sort of hip cachet. There’s also enough musical distinction to hold your interest.

There are three types of tunes here: mellow smooth-jazz instrumentals with classy piano; instrumental tunes with piano and often sax riding on top of in-the-pocket beats and hand claps; and sophisticated vocal tunes. The first is marked by songs like “Danni’s Song,” “In the Moment,” “Ellicott City” and “This Place Hotel.” The best songs are the funkiest: “Chillaxin,” which may be Johnson’s catchiest song yet; “Cherish the Journey”; and two tunes that make excellent use of the vocoder, “I See You” and the sublime “Say Yes” with Devin (D Monet) Doyd. The vocal tunes are led by “Capice,” with the signature voice of hit R&B vocalist Miles Jaye, and “Master of My Heart,” with the sultry vocal stylings of Incognito’s Maysa.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published