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George V. Johnson’s album entitled, “Your Majesty | Walk Spirit Talk Spirit" is hip and refreshing as it honors the fundamentals of jazz and mindful storytelling. The 8-song offering includes well-crafted classics featuring original lyrics and arrangements. Johnson, along with his fellow comrades Elijah Easton (sax), Donvonte McCoy (trumpet), Allyn Johnson (piano), Herman Burney (bass), Steve Arnold (bass), and Dana-j Hawkins (drums) carry the listener through the album’s timely theme of transcendence and renewal of one’s spiritual self.
“Walk Spirit Talk Spirit”, the album’s first tune, opens with Allyn Johnson’s majestic playing alongside Dana J. Hawkins’ proficient percussion thus setting the tone for an audio journey. George V. Johnson’s beautiful, commanding voice sings original lyrics over McCoy Tyner’s Walk Spirit Talk Spirit “Knarrative Will Set Us Free”, Donvonte McCoy and Elijah Easton follow Johnson’s lyrics with a smooth, conversational melody. Elijah, Donvonte, and Allyn serve up back-to-back, vibrant solos and Herman Burney’s delightful strumming supports the song’s theme.
Other tunes featured on the album such as Lou Donaldson's Blue Note classic "Gravy Train", warning it very Funky, "No Room for Squares",
"Fly With The Wind" with captivating vocal arrangements by Johnson, “Jive Samba” and “Moose the Mooche” are playful and proficient with memorable, sing-along melodies. “Road Song”, arranged by Donvonte McCoy, one of the album’s gems, is luscious with exceptional storytelling and gentle solos.
When discussing the album and his inspirations, George V. Johnson notes that “Your Majesty”, a nickname gifted to him in earlier years by John Malachi ("Sassy" Sarah Vaughn) was the most suitable to also title the album. With a background in dance, theater, jazz and performance, the global elements of Johnson’s inspirations provide an intricate tapestry of sound worthy of setting the album, “Your Majesty | Walk Spirit Talk Spirit" on repeat for another round of engaging listening.
Written By: MajeedahJohnson, blogger and Novelist
GEORGE V JOHNSON JR Walk Spirit Talk Spirit By CapitalBop · September 15, 2022
On Walk Spirit Talk Spirit, vocalist George V. Johnson Jr. delivers an ode to the legacy of jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, who passed away in 2020, via a combination of covers of tunes by Tyner and other legends. The eight-song album is a charming body of music, exploring a wide range of vocal jazz, with the versatile singer using almost every phrase in his harmonic vocab to give listeners a complete music experience.
Accompanying Johnson is Allyn Johnson on piano, Herman Burney on bass, Dana J. Hawkins on drums, Elijah Easton on saxophone and Donvonte McCoy on trumpet. The music includes established jazz classics and standards with Johnson’s lyrics and the band’s improvisations added to the mix, resulting in an album of music that’s unique yet very familiar. Johnson mischievously scats, even infusing Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” with an impromptu “Spiderman Theme” verse that may force a quick chuckle — or a rewind, even. He passionately urges listeners to “Come Fly Away with Me” on McCoy Tyner’s composition “Fly with the Wind.” He also delivers a soulful performance on the Lou Donaldson chestnut “All Aboard the Gravy Train” (Burney and Allyn Johnson also offer some outstanding playing here), creating a tune that’s liable to make listeners want to get up and “shake your booty!” Johnson makes every song a standout by showcasing his incredible range and vocal control.
As for the band’s performance, there are more than a few remarkable moments on this album: Hawkins gets busy at the end of “Cantaloupe Island,” breaking away from setting the rhythm to create his own. Easton cuts loose during his opening solo on “Knarrative Will Set Us Free” (an interpretation of Tyner’s “Walk Spirit Talk Spirit”), voicing lyrics with his horn buzzing around while his colleagues keep a steady pace.
The musicians on the record sometimes nearly persuade the listener to forget that Johnson is even present. Still, when his sultry voice reappears after the impressive soloing from the group, it tends to feel as if he never really left.