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  Although he has backed accomplished jazz artists such as McCoy Tyner and Shannon Jackson, guitarist
Jef Lee Johnson
views songwriting from a pure pop perspective. "I've been on sessions where everyone keeps talking about "'he hit,'" he says. "But the songs that wind up getting hummed forever are the ones that sound the most like Mary Had a Little Lamb.' Writing hits isn't about reinventing anything, it's about doing something that doesn't alienate people."

While Johnson may appreciate the uncomplicated melodies of nursury rhymes, his guitar playing is anything but simplistic. The pungent, jazz-funk solos on his album Communion (DIW) brand him as a guitarists' guitarist, and
his pianistic approach to chording betrays influences such as Thelonius Monk, Herbie Hancock, and Jan Hammer.
A Johnson E9 for example, includes a 6(C#) next to the flat 7(D) and is voiced G#-C#-D-F#, as opposed to
the more conventional guitar voicing of E-G#-D-F#.

"I try to use clustered voicings whenever possible,"he says. "And that usually involves some stretchy-fingers type stuff
to get those chords voiced like apianist would play them."

Johnson recorded Communion-the follow-up to 1995's Blue (Coconut Grove)-at his Philly home, playing all the instruments himself. He used a G&L Legacy and a G&L ASAT, both strung with Dean Markley custom lights
(.009-046), to produce the clear, clean sound he prefers.

To keep the sound as clean as possible, Johnson plugged his guitarsinto a Tube Works Real Tube 4001 DI and recorded the signals direct to a Tascam M2524 24-track. For grittier tones, he used a Mesa/Boogie V-Twin. His favorite signal processor in Lexicon's now-discontinued Vortex,
which he typically uses to seamlessly cross fade from one effect to another.

"the Vortex effect-morphing function lets me creat a lot more tension and friction in the area between sounds," says Johnson. "For example, durring the outro solo on 'Jumped the Gun Again,' the guitar starts out moody and then starts to get kind of scary. The transition between the two moods is almost imperceptible. It's like I'm just nudging you, instead of just elling you something. That's really what I want to do with my playing."


"In one word: irreplaceable!" -King Britt

"The funkiest man I know alive, today!" -Rachelle Farrell

"...the Hendrix of our generation!" -D'Angelo

"(his)CDs stay in my player...(he's) a gift from God." -Chaka Khan

"He is God."-?uestlove (The Roots)

"He's one on the funkiest, and baddest brothers
I've ever heard on the guitar"-Common

"Where have you been all my life?"-Lenny White

"Jef; he has it all: You want Robert JOHNSON, he's got that,
HENDRIX, he's got that, the jazz is covered, a little country,
he's a great songwriter, and he's got a beautiful singing voice."
-Vernon Reid

"Where have you been all my musical life?!?
You are beautiful." -Roberta Flack

"If Miles was Alive, I'd introduce (Jef) to him right now!"
-Bill Cosby

"I've now worked with the three greatest of all time:
and Jef Lee Johnson."
-Terry "Skipper" McVay

"15 years ago, when I first started doing gigs in Philly,
Jef was the most revered guitarist in town. Today, not only is he still the most revered cat in Philly, but now the world knows who the funkiest cat on the box is"
-Christian McBride

"The most brilliant guitar player that ever lived."
-Ronald Shannon Jackson

"My favorite bass and guitar player." -Leon Huff

"If I played guitar, that's how I'd play." -James Carter

"Jef Lee added timeless moans and primal wails to my song,
Penitentiary Philosophy, helping me to remember where my voice, and the sound of the strings met,
and made love for the first time. Now I know the wonder of the lead guitar."
-Erykah Badu

"Jef Lee Johnson is one of those rare musicians who 'gets it!' He knows how to
make the music take flight-'to go where no man has gone before.' Besides being a truly adventurous
guitarist, he's also an outstanding composer, bass and keyboard player; blending his roots in Blues and Funk,
with his love and understanding of Jazz and Latin Music. In other words, he's done his homework.
Since I was first introduced to Jef, he has quickly become my favorite guitarist. He's one of a kind,
with a distinct personal and musical point of view-We Need More Like Him!
-George Duke

-GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE Issue 349 Volume 33 No. 1 January 1999 www.guitarplayer.com


  The Singularity 1999

"Johnson sounds at times like Stevie Wonder,
but he's earthier, more dangerous and less commercial."
-Philadelphia Inquirer
  The Hype Factory 2001

"This CD vaults from industrial-strength funk to spine-tingling blues-rock, from bass-heavy grooves to shapely melodies that persist
in the mind after the party ends."
-Philadelphia Inquirer
  Things Are Things 2002

"His fourth CD picks away at the grainy colors in funk. It's full of quivering chords, ramrod beats, and bluesy grooves... Johnson plays like a man with a wah-wah pedal on his car's accelerator."
-Philadelphia Inquirer
  St. Somebody 2002

"His guitar wavers like an Indian sitar on 'promise of lovevolution' while 'ism ism' burns with a rock flame and some sizzling lyrics."
-Philadelphia Inquirer
  Hellion 2003

"Johnson assembles a lot of quick takes that showcase his handsome voice, his penchant for spacy doodlings and country pluckings, and his steak-tartarelike guitar solos."
-Philadelphia Inquirer
  Laughing Boy 2003

Other than the final track, a cover of Jimi Hendix' "Rainy Day, Dream Away," this is yet another compilation of no less than 21 original compositions by the prolific Jef Lee Johnson.


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