Recipient for Jazz Artist of the Year – 19th Annual LA Music Awards
In what is rapidly becoming a banner year of accomplishments and accolades, international jazz pianist/composer Earl R. Johnson, Jr. won the “2009 Jazz Artist of the Year” at the recent 5th Annual South Bay (Los Angeles) Music Awards in Southern California. The talented musician – fresh off a Featured Artist performance at the 2009 Inland Empire Community Festival in Ontario — was selected as one of only six Finalists to compete in the “6th Annual Capital Jazz Challenge in Columbia, MD this past Spring. Johnson is also a Nominee in the “Jazz Artist of the Year” category for the “19th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards,” happening Thursday, November 12 at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif.
Johnson was contacted last Summer by President Barack Obama’s campaign team, asking if he’s play solo piano for a private fund raiser here in Los Angeles. Of course, he accepted. It was truly an honor and one of the more recent highlights of my career,” the musician says.
JUICY (First Domain Records) is Johnson’s highly-anticipated debut CD release. Cognitive and funky, Johnson has been heralded as one of the premiere composers/ producers of this era due to his electric, fiery performing style.
JUICY is an eclectic look into the mind of this prolific producer and songwriter, taking the listener on a complete musical journey with ten original masterpieces. Earl makes the piano sing with all of the finesse and fluidity of a modern-day virtuoso; each song pulls you deeper into Johnson’s musical world, leaving its listener in high anticipation of what’s to come next. Whether listening to one of the highly-charged (virtually danceable) red-hot tracks (“That Thang”); soulful, pensive ballads (“Requiem”), or funk/jazz/r&b-tinged title track, there’s literally something for everyone on JUICY.
BILLBOARD MAGAZINE called JUICY “a tempting mix of instrumental and vocal tracks as it skillfully shifts from smooth to funky with its shadings of R&B and hip-hop.”
“Pianist Earl R. Johnson, Jr. espouses a highly rhythmic approach to contemporary jazz that keeps the bass line front and center, reverberates with hip-hop drum effects, swirls with keyboard authority and allows plenty of space for lyrical instrumental voices,” writes ALL ABOUT JAZZ. “His ethereal piano melodies allow the session to cool frequently, while rhythms heat up on occasion and surrounding forces bring tension. Thus, Johnson forces a balance that keeps his session smooth but interesting, romantic but appealing, lyrical and highly rhythmic.”
National publication MUSIC CONNECTION opines, “packing a prodigious sideman resume’, Johnson spotlights himself on a collection of (mostly) instrumentals…”Juicy” is his strongest outing: silky-smooth, funky, and very danceable…bonded together by Johnson’s proficient piano, and crafted to hook the listener, the tune is a winner..each track is exceptionally recorded, with pristine piano tone.” Radio has taken to “JUICY,” with adds at Smooth Jazz Expressions (Springfield, Il); KKJZ-FM (Long Beach, CA); WEAA-FM (Baltimore, MD); WINR-FM (Houston); WERG-FM (Erie, PA); The Jazz Network (London, England); WBCX-FM (Oakwood, GA); JS108atlanta.com; JS108losangeles.com; Indie Showcase; and Awesomeradio.net (Sydney, Australia).
Earl R. Johnson Jr. is a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music with a degree in Film Scoring. He has captivated audiences on five continents; Johnson’s command of several writing and playing styles has afforded him the opportunity to have worked and/or toured with many of the music industry’s top legends, including Patti Austin, Brian McKnight, Chaka Khan, Jeffrey Osborne, Beyonce, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Kenny Lattimore, and R. Kelly, to name a few. Earl has composed dramatic underscores for several films (“Living With Faith,” “Two Can Play That Game”) and television projects (Showtime’s “Linc’s,” “Breaking The Code”). Johnson has produced and composed arrangements for many notable recording artists including K Ci and JoJo, Chante Moore, and T.C. Carson. Earl has served as Musical Director (Gerald Albright, Marla Glen, Terry Dexter, Najee, Freda Payne, T.C. Carson, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Theotrilogy”) conducted orchestras for a variety of musical situations including the wedding of actress Lela Rochon (“Waiting to Exhale”) and Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day.”) Earl’s mastery of the piano and keyboards has captivated audiences around the world; most notably and recently as Keyboardist and Featured Soloist with R&B vocal legend, Chaka Khan.
JUICY is available at Zahra’s Books N Things in Inglewood, CA; Soundsations Records in Westchester, CA; 7th Heaven (and) Streetside Records in Kansas City, MO; Sound of Market in Philadelphia; Dimensions in Music in Baltimore, MD; Dusty Groove America in Chicago, IL; (and) Music and More in York, PA, as well as online at www.cdbaby.com/earlrjohnsonjr and ITunes.