“Music has healing power, it can change your mood, put a smile on your face, or render up a dance move,” exclaims keyboardist and Jazz In Pink founder, Gail Jhonson. Hailing from the City Of Brotherly Love, Jhonson adds to Philadelphia’s legacy of pioneering music luminaries. “I am proud to be a part of the Philly sound.
When I was growing up, you couldn’t walk too far before you heard a band or some instruments practicing,” recalls Gail, affectionately dubbed the First Lady Of Smooth Jazz. “I share the same love of orchestral instruments, horn sections, vocal groups and rhythm sections, that was made famous by TSOP, Bell, Huff, Harris, Creed, Wanzel and The Uptown Theatre Orchestra….oh such a long list of my composition heroes!”
With this rich tradition being a part of Gail Jhonson’s undeniable musical DNA, it is no surprise that she was driven to perform professionally by the young age of 14. Jhonson has been the Music Director for Grammy winning guitarist Norman Brown for over two decades. “I resonate with Norman’s music and his full expression on stage is stellar…He trusts me with the flow of his show, and knows that the best I have to offer is always there,” shares the now Los Angeles based pianist. A musician’s musician, whose musical arsenal draws from the worlds of straight-ahead Jazz, R&B, Funk and Gospel, Jhonson has held down the piano chair for a wide cross-section of artists from Bobby Womack, Janet Jackson, Pink and Morris Day to Sheila E., Ray Parker Jr., Peabo Bryron and Patti Austin, among others.
Danny Weiss, VP of Jazz and A&R for Shanachie Entertainment states, “As Norman Brown’s long time music director, it’s obvious that Gail Jhonson is a superb musician. But it’s the warmth and inner spirit that infuses her music that make her truly special. It’s a joy to be associated with her.”
Jhonson’s label debut Joy! beautifully illustrates her compositional prowess as she offers ten tracks of originals. “I think I shine best as a composer,” confides the pianist. “I love works from composers as diverse as Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, Carole King and Jimi Hendrix. When I am working, all of these musical ideas float around in the ether, and at any given moment, one might come and sit with me at my piano.”Joy!‘s first single was “Joy Joy!” featuring label mates; saxophonist Kim Waters and guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr.
The satisfying affair contains the right combination of laid-back soul with a gritty groove and offers an inviting mix that fittingly opens the album. The album’s second and current single, the head-nodding “Keystroke,” shows off Jhonson’s flare for concocting high-spirited bluesy numbers that infiltrate your body, daring you to sit still. Gail shares, “I wrote this song some years ago as a dedication to two of my keyboard heroes Ramsey Lewis and Billy Preston.”
Gail’s dreams for her new album are simple, “I’m hoping the music will be inspirational enough to make people play it over and over again. The world is in such disarray right now and I am hopeful that this music will offer Joy!, even a little bit will do.”