Hailing from the City Of Brotherly Love, Grammy nominated keyboardist Gail 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 Jhonson, who is 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.,” shares the keyboardist. “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 performing professionally by the age of 14. “I love it so much,” she confides. “I don’t know why, I just think it chose me!”
This summer Gail Jhonson will release her Shanachie debut album featuring her all-star female band, Jazz In Pink. Jhonson, who is a woman on a mission, created the ensemble as a way to address her concern that women are under represented on the jazz scene particularly as instrumentalists. “Traditionally, most vocalists played piano, but were encouraged to only present their vocal skills on stage, while their instrumental expression was suppressed,” she explains, “Our ensemble is dedicated to the blending of piano-violin-flute-harp as a core presentation: orchestral instruments playing melodically over the rhythm section (bass-drums-guitar-percussion). Add in jazzy R&B vocals, and that female energy of passion, beauty and fire; creates sheer Sisterness of rhythm, composition, performance and the pink principal-all expressed on stages that inspire. We wear pink, our fans wear pink, which shows we are all in solidarity and resonate together in our brand of musical expression.”
Gail Jhonson’s first single of her anticipated new CD is the intoxicating, uplifting and jubilant “Joy Joy,” which just debuted in the Top 30 of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. The track is a spotlight for Jhonson as she welcomes two special guests, saxophonist Kim Waters and guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. Jhonson and Waters’ connection extends back many years, as the two have collaborated through the years with guitarist Norman Brown. Jhonson says, “Working with Kim in the studio gave me a deeper appreciation for his talent and his spirit as a person. He took ‘Joy Joy’ to another level, infusing his own joy of sax…..what a consummate musician.” Jhonson wrote the song with her writing partner, Gino Valentino.