Gail Jhonson -- Pearls

While we�re awaiting the rush of hot new 2009 releases, I thought I�d reach back in 2008 and highlight an artist whose contribution was more than noteworthy. The beautiful and talented pianist/keyboardist Gail Jhonson released a real piece de resistance entitled Pearls. Truly, this is a suave, steady, and most melodic album.

Jhonson is joined here by such wonderful masters as Pieces of a Dream�s keyboard genius James Lloyd, the Braxton Brothers� multi-talented Nelson Braxton, guitarist extraordinaire Norman Brown (for whom Jhonson serves as musical director), sax great Marion Meadows (ask this guy about which artists have influenced him the most, and you�ll undoubtedly be quite impressed!), and guitarist Paul Brown, who stayed out of public sight for many years, opting to work behind the scenes producing and doing the whole studio thing before finally deciding to publicly strut his stuff just a few short years back, much to smooth jazzers� delight.

Back to Pearls, this project is so heavily laden with well-composed, clearly exotic selections that it�s quite easy to discern how she arrived at the album title. I honestly can�t pick a favorite here because each tune is a gem in and of itself. Each piece clearly shows how much energy and love she and those like Lloyd (who composed quite a few here) placed into composing it. Nothing is a �filler� or �fluff.� Most cuts here could be a showstopper at any concert, in my opinion.

So, we�re now in 2009, and what a great year I expect it to be from a musical standpoint. However, if Gail Jhonson doesn�t release an album this year, Pearls will stand on its own to compete with the newest of new smooth jazz releases. I personally promise it.