|George V. Johnson -- the V is for Vocals Looking for good things in 2006 is George V. Johnson, our vocalese guru. Thanks to his father, Johnson fell in love with jazz at an early age and it became an inseparable part of him, spurring his creativity to form words to all the music he fell in love with. A teacher of vocalese at American University for his more academically inclined students and at Twins Lounge every Wednesday night for his students more in tune with patronizing jazz clubs, Johnson has made himself -- literally -- into a walking heritage of the art form of jazz. He's intertwined himself into the legacy of the late vocal master Eddie Jefferson and other masters like Jon Hendricks. "Eddie Jefferson was my first jazz idol," said Johnson. "I met him during the 70's. I knew most of his songs since I was kid. We became very good friends. |
Other mentors were King Pleasure, then Jon Hendricks. The first song I sang in public on stage with [late D.C. pianist] John Malachi was "Little Don't Get Scared" by King Pleasure. Johnson says of his passion, "Jazz vocalese is writing lyrics to improvised solo's note for note, founded by Eddie Jefferson my mentor and years later perfected by Jon Hendricks. I'm taking it to the next level -- the classroom. I teach original lyrics, concentrate on presentation, diction, intonation, repetition, harmony etc." A D.C. native, graduate of the hard knocks of life on the streets making music in New York City and elsewhere, Johnson spent 10 years working with saxophonist James Moody. Johnson has made two recordings of his own, "Next in Line!" and "Live at Jazz Inn," which feature him putting his heart and soul and creative lyricism into the music. And Johnson has done the lyrics for many jazz songs, maybe hundreds, including John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice," which he recorded for Pharoah Sanders.
He's working on a project now to record the lyrics for the late saxophonist Hank Mobley's solos. "I've been working on [it] off and on for three years now," says Johnson, who had a gig at Twins Jazz in November that was devoted to the Mobley project where he featured his students from the American University Jazz Vocal Ensemble and also students from the "Art of Vocalese Workshop". "It's very special. Hank Mobley was very special as well. The project takes years of research and writing lyrics [project], refining and fine-tuning through performances. At this point Don Sickler [New York City book, music publisher] of Second Floor Music and I talk often and meet on occasions to go over lyrics and put [the lyrics] to sheet music. We are also considering a Hank Mobley Song Book with Lyrics. As much joy as the music has given Johnson, he also knows the toll it's taken on his life. A labor of love it has been, the sweet and the bittersweet. "I like to have my lyrics and music like they're second nature," says Johnson. "Like tying my shoe strings with my eyes closed. I've never made a living or hardly any money singing music. Though it has taken me around the world. Performing jazz is probably the lowest paid music profession on the planet.
Having a well-produced record, distribution, good representation, connections and airplay is the key. It's been all for fun just like when I was a kid. If it's not fun then it's no good to me. I've always worked a full time job to provide for my family and myself while singing. I was employed as conductor for New Jersey Transit Rail in 1986 while I was singing with James Moody. Moody put me in many great situations was also singing with Lou Donaldson as well. They were two of the best saxophonists in the business. In between I was hanging out with Barry Harris, Pharoah Sanders, George Coleman, Junior Cook, Harold Vick, Larry Ridley, Bobby Watson, Richie Cole, Clifford Jordan, Tommy Turrentine and C Sharp to name a few. A great learning experience. A childhood dream."
NOW BOOKING GROUP TOURS: Quintet, Quartet, Trio or Solo 2005 - 2006 USA, Canada, South America, Africa, Australia, UK, Europe, Asia.
CURRENT GROUP: George V Johnson Jr-voice, Fred Foss-sax/flute, Raymond Angry-piano, Ephriam Wolfolk-bass, Lenny Robinson-drums.
AVAILABLE FOR: tours, clubs, concerts, festivals, cruise ships, weddings, pool parties, workshops, recordings, lyrics for record dates, commercials, jingles, voiceovers, television, film, live radio broadcast, theatre, motion pictures etc. US passport. Give us a call today! FOR MORE INFO OR BOOKINGS CONTACT: www.jambuddy.net/?georgevjohnson (Extensive Bio) or firstname.lastname@example.org - 301-336-5067 - Eastern standard time - FAVORITE LINKS:
GEORGE V JOHNSON JR, presently teaches weekly Master Classes at American University and the "ART OF JAZZ VOCALESE" every Wednesday evening from 7-9pm at Twins Lounge in Washington DC. All singers are members of the "International Jazz Vocalese Choir". Feel free to drop on by.