Ellen Johnson | These Days

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Moods: Type: Vocal
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These Days

by Ellen Johnson

A raw, soulful jazz journey using creative, contemporary and lush vocals inspired by the bass of Darek Oles, mixed with moments of guitar & drums (Larry Koonse & Roy McCurdy) and passionately dedicated to bebop master Sheila Jordan.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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1. These Days
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5:35 $0.99
2. No Moon At All
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2:27 $0.99
3. The Crossing
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4:06 $0.99
4. Inspiration
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4:52 $0.99
5. I Feel The Same
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5:21 $0.99
6. Noddin' Ya Head Blues
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3:50 $0.99
7. Esperanca Perdida (I Was Just One More For You)
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4:16 $0.99
8. Who Knows Where the Time Goes
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2:45 $0.99
9. If I Should Lose You
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4:41 $0.99
10. You Don't Know What Love Is
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5:54 $0.99
11. Nostalgia In Times Square
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2:53 $0.99
12. BONUS TRACK: Little Messenger (For Sheila Jordan)
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2:06 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Ellen Johnson’s latest release, These Days, brings a fresh face to the plethora of jazz vocalists. Featuring some of the finest musicians in the world, Sheila Jordan, Roy McCurdy (drums), Larry Koonse (guitar), Ana Gazzola (vocal/percussion) and the stunning bass work of Darek Oles whose collaboration contributes to the unique sound.

Twelve tracks of exposed emotion that travel through stories composed by a variety of accomplished songwriters and artists, from Mingus to Jackson Browne. Spiced with original songs, lyrics and poetry highlighted by duets with bass mixed with a raw instrumental approach. Ellen Johnson, a jazz singer who has the inspiration to take us to creative territory has succeeded in making music that touches our souls. Her expressive, whimsical and honest approach to each song carries "These Days" into an unforgettable journey.

The CD is dedicated to her friend and mentor, Sheila Jordan, who was truly the innovator of bass and voice duets beginning her first duets with the late Charles Mingus. The touching third track on the CD, “The Crossing” is an original composition by Sheila Jordan written with a special message to each one of us about believing in our selves and making it through difficult times in our lives. The song is sung as a trio with Ellen, Sheila and Darek on bass, as a tribute to the woman who gave so much of herself to the music she loves, jazz.

Another original song on the CD, “Inspiration”, was recorded after Ellen heard Darek’s composition and was taken by its depth and beauty. She felt the song would make a perfect vehicle for a wordless vocal solo and the amazing Larry Koonse added his mastery to the song that Darek likes to call a cross between Chopin and Brazil. To add a touch of authenticity the Brazilian vocalist, Ana Gazzola, plays percussion with groove and accuracy on both “Inspiration” and “Esperanza Perdida (I Was Just One More For You)”. In “Esperanza Perdida”, Ellen once again brings her love of Braziliain music to this project and sings in both Portuegese and English with the sweet arrangement of Kim Richmond.

At least half of the tracks on These Days are bass and voice duets starting with the clever standard “No Moon At All’ that flows in and out of swing and bossa feel painting a picture of the dark evening possibilities. The Chris Smither song, “I Feel The Same” brings a more contemporary vehicle to the duo and they dig into the rhythmic patterns in a soulful salute to love lost as Ellen magically turns her voice into a combination of electric guitar and harmonica for a improvised solo. The dynamic interplay between Darek Oles and Ellen can be heard again in the beautiful standards, “If I Should Lose You”, “You Don’t Know What Love Is’ and an unusual choice “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”, (written by Sandy Denny) from the folk music days of the ‘60s.
Ellen’s passion for Mingus is apparent from her selections, “Noddin’ Ya Head Blues” and “Nostalgia in Times Square”. She cleverly adds lyrics to both songs (with permission of Sue Mingus) and brings a new dimension to the works. The lyric for “Noddin’ Ya Head Blues” was influenced by her own feelings about corporate and political crimes oddly enough being written long before the Enron and other corporate scandals. “Nostalgia in Times Square” has a dual message, one of homage to Charles Mingus and the other a yearning to be in New York City and to experience the excitement of the jazz scene that Mingus helped to create. “Nostalgia in Times Square” brings the quartet sound to life and features the great Roy McCurdy on drums, a veteran off the NY jazz scene having made his mark with Cannonball Adderly, Sonny Rollins and later Ms Nancy Wilson.
The closing piece is a poem written about Sheila Jordan, presented to her during an awards ceremony. The special addition of Ms Jordan’s background vocals, improvising her own message to the words is the final touch to this heartfelt journey that is filled with warmth, humor and a myriad of emotions. Ellen sings with every inch of her soul in this enchanting and mesmerizing CD.


Reviews


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Chas


It is funny how you discover an artist. I am a fan of Sheila Jordan, and saw her in a small club in Ottawa. I was blown away with her song The Crossing, plugged it in to AMG website and found that Ellen Johnson had recorded it. Did some research on the singer, found wonderful reviews of her work, sought out this cd, found it at cd baby, and got two copies. This lady has chops! Her duet with Sheila Jordan on the Crossing is awe inspiring. The beauty of their two voices is stunning. Ellen Johnson's voice and bass are front and center on this cd, in a collection of pop, standards, and self-penned tunes. This lady has a beautiful voice, and pours such emotion and love into each song, from first to last. The musicians are first rate, and are given space to swing. This lady and her music deserve more exposure. Highly recommended.

Linda C

One of the BEST cd's EVER -- in any genre
I've been a fan of Ellen Johnson's for years, but I still cannot say enough good things about this CD. I grew up listening to jazz and all kinds of other music (rock, blues, classical, etc). I love music and I really appreciate a good effort -- but this one really excells. It comes from the SOUL on many levels -- Ellen has accomplished a master piece with this one -- and the musicians and guests are right with her too! It is one truly from the heart of the singer and musicians. A new level of maturity and depth -- you'll love everything on this CD.

Frank-John Hadley, Downbeat Magazine

Ellen Johnson's These Days is one of the best albums
Ellen Johnson's These Days is one of the best albums to be heard from a no-nonsense jazz singer in the past year; she and her recording are worthy of serious consideration for placement in the 2007 DownBeat Critics Poll.

Bill Donaldson, Jazz Improv Magazine

These Days is a true delight.
As "These Days" proceeds the soul of Ellen Johnson emerges, and she leaves no doubt about the wide range of her talents. In addition, the album reminds us of the fresh ideas, impressive technique and passion for the music that Ellen Johnson offers listeners. "These Days" is a true delight.

George Harris, All About Jazz

...raises the standard of modern jazz singing by at least one notch
Johnson has released a challenging, sophisticated and successful album that raises the standard of modern jazz singing by at least one notch. While other singers are rehashing the great American songbook, Johnson is putting it through the meat grinder and creating a whole new menu.

Kimberly Ford

classic, warm and stylish, a vocalists voclaist.
Ellen Johnson and I share some of the same vocalist heroines like Sheila Jordon & Jay Clayton but only recently did I have the pleasure of purchasing and listen to this stunning CD. Beautiful work. She has definitely distinguished herself with this recording. Ellen's depth, range and warmth come shining through. I wish it every success.