Monday, 29 June 2009

Marcus Johnson - Poetically Justified - 2009 - Three Keys

I have not yet heard a Marcus Johnson CD that I have not liked - usually it's a cool, soulful vocal or a bit of smooth jazz with a rare hint of feature and stamina and so with 2009's Three Keys effort, "Poetically Justified" we are more than treated to both in equal measure. For me this rates as one of Marcus' best efforts to date. Fans of Maysa, Najee and Miles Jaye will want this set for every reason you can possibly think of, and for me the great surprise is the funky, sexy re-working of Miles Jaye's 1991 track "Capice" featuring the great man himself no less on vocal chores. For me this takes the original cutting by storm and turns it into soimething far better! Miles Jaye and Marcus Johnson...what a combination! Maysa's vocal contribution on "Master Of My Heart" is a sheer aural delight. Almost fitting of inclusion on a Kloud 9 CD, this song sees our Gorgeous Maysa teasing us with sexy phrasing, sumptuous flourishes and wonderful pitching. Maysa is, for me, one of THE female soul stars of our time and much respect to the likes of Marcus etc for acknowledging this and giving her the right sort of material for her more than apparent talents.

Equally, "Hold On" is another Maysa gem. More in the vein of a chunkier uptempo dancer with lashings of '70s jazz-fusion thrown in for good measure, this song and it's whole smooth mix has all the hallmarks of the best songs from 4Hero. Classy stuff, and I really want to hear much more of this. Saxophonist (and vocalist!) Marcus Anderson adds much to the warm keys that enshroud us on "Stand By Me". As far as the keys go, I feel the '70s work of Ramsey Lewis very much at large, and when the song really gets going his sax work reminds me of Eddie M. Delicious stuff, and Najee also knocks us out with his work on the FUNKY "I See You". Vocally we are in electronic territory. NOT the crass, ephemeral and totally rubbish auto-tuning that today's "RnB" children use, but more talk box a la Herbie Hancock or Roger Troutman. None of the instrumentals let us down, either. The opening cut, "Chillaxin'" is well worth a spin and it's ethic flavours add extra spices to an already toothsome musical dish. "Cherish The Journey" beefs up the set no end, and "Danni's Song" offers a Norman Connors feel with some grand piano, lavish in approach and slap bass guitar. Think "One For Mr. C" and you're not far away from what you have here. Marcus Johnson can stand and take a bow from what he has served up here. A real must and one for lovers of soul and jazz.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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