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Reggie Washington: Rainbow Shadow Vol. 2 (Jammin’ Colors)

Review of album by bassist paying tribute to the guitarist/composer Jef Lee Johnson

Cover of Reggie Washington album Rainbow Shadow Vol. 2
Cover of Reggie Washington album Rainbow Shadow Vol. 2

Like its 2015 predecessor, bassist-vocalist Reggie Washington’s latest is a genre-bending set dedicated to the memory of guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, who died in 2013. Fifteen of the disc’s 17 songs are Johnson compositions.

“Silence [No Secret],” despite squiggles and bleeps from turntablist DJ Grazzhoppa, is rootsy at its core: Marvin Sewell’s modal guitar voicings evoke Northern Mississippi trance blues, and Monique Harcum’s guest vocals likewise sound both atavistic and charged with forward-thrusting energy. A similar bluesy feel permeates the dark-hued remake of Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell” (updated with an electronically tweaked audio clip of a Donald Trump rant) and “Emmett Till,” Johnson’s paean to the Chicago-born civil-rights martyr. “Hype” (Pts. 1 and 2) re-grafts JB-flavored funk onto its New Orleans street-parade roots; “Other Thoughts of Fanny’s Toy” gives Washington the opportunity to strut his considerable solo chops.

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