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Music Is the Magic

Kelley Johnson

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Album Review

One of the finest jazz singers not only of those based in the Pacific Northwest but in the U.S., Kelley Johnson is in top form throughout this continually intriguing CD. Joined by an excellent rhythm section with either Geoffrey Keezer or John Hansen on piano and welcome guest spots for trumpeter Brian Lynch (who works very well with the singer) and altoist Steve Wilson, Johnson sounds quite happy throughout the set. At times her deep voice is reminiscent of Irene Kral and a little bit of Madeline Eastman, but mostly she sounds like herself. Her interpretations of such modernized songs as "Lucky to Be Me," "Tea for Two," and "Old Devil Moon" are fresh; her spoken word recitation on "The Celebration Place" is successful; and she even manages to revive "What the World Needs Now Is Love" as a slow ballad. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" does not really work as a song sung by a female (even Abbey Lincoln should not have bothered), but that is a minor misstep. Kelley Johnson knows when to improvise and when the lyrics are worth embracing. She is a youthful but mature singer whose every recording deserves a close listen.

Biography

Born: 20 June 1958 in Milwaukee, WI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Not to be confused with British heavy metal/hard rock guitarist Kelly Johnson (who was a member of the all-female headbanger combo Girlschool back in the late-'70s and early-'80s), the Kelley Johnson profiled in this bio is an American jazz vocalist who has been active in Seattle since the late '80s. Kelley Johnson favors a clean, lucid, straightforward vocal style that has inspired a variety of comparisons. There are hints of Carmen McRae in her warm, intimate phrasing, and her effective use of...
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Music Is the Magic, Kelley Johnson
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