We are proud to present Reggie Washington’s third CD entitled “RAINBOW SHADOW – A Tribute to Jef Lee Johnson”. This CD will be released June 1st, 2015 on the Jammin’colorS label.
Bassist Reggie Washington was a key participant in the Modern Jazz revolution of the 80’s and 90’s. He became known touring, recording and performing with Steve Coleman, Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Chico Hamilton, Oliver Lake, Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Lester Bowie and Ronald Shannon Jackson.
In 2005, Reggie began successfully touring with his own bands. They were a mix of American & European musicians such as Ravi Coltrane, Gene Lake, Stéphane Galland, Jef Lee Johnson, Erwin Vann, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, E.J Strickland, Jozef Dumoulin, Skoota Warner, Matthew Garrison, Marcus Strickland, Jason Lindner, Poogie Bell and Ronny Drayton.
A versatile, 360-degree musician, Reggie plays Jazz, Funk, R&B, Blues, World and Experimental music with a natural and contagious energy. His bass lines are both sophisticated and explicit. He is diligent in his work and enjoys mixing people of different cultures as a way to enhance music by learning from others and sharing ideas.
Prior to “RAINBOW SHADOW” Reggie released two other CDs: “FREEDOM” and “A LOT OF LOVE, LIVE!”
Reggie is currently touring with Archie Shepp, Lisa Simone, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Wallace Roney, The Headhunters, Alex Tassel, Dana Leong, Hervé Samb, Brian Jackson’s New Midnight Band “Tribute to Gil Scott Heron”, Rokia Traoré, Randy Brecker, Stanley Jordan and gospel diva Liz McComb.
Jef Lee Johnson – “An Unrecognized Genius”
Jef is one of the greatest guitar players of all time and a true gift to the musical world.
He played a wide variety of instruments — guitar, bass, keyboards, sax, drums — and was also a potent vocalist with a broad and powerful range. But it’s on the guitar that he burned incandescent, jawdroppingly-brilliant, careening stylistic collisions of legato-laden fusion and state-of-the-art acid-funk.
The “short list” of artists Jef collaborated with includes Rachelle Ferrell, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Esperanza Spalding, Ronald Shannon Jackson, The Roots, Jill Scott, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, McCoy Tyner, Sister Sledge, Billy Joel, Roberta Flack, Common, Patti Labelle, Jeff Beck, Mariah Carey, Stanley Clarke, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, David Sanborn and Cindy Blackman-Santana.
Although he was known as the quintessential sideman, Jef recorded 12 CDs under his own name.
He called himself “Rainbow Crow”.
The Legend of Rainbow Crow
A Lenape Native-American legend tells the story of a bird gifted with great beauty and talent — a shining coat of rainbow-colored feathers and a wonderful singing voice — who risks everything to save his friends.
Rainbow Crow takes on the mission of stopping a snowfall that is threatening to bury the forest where he and his friends live. He flies to the “Great Spirit in the Sky” who gives him a stick of fire to carry in his beak to warm the earth.
The bird files back to earth and arrives just in time to melt the snow. But during the journey the sparks from the stick of fire burn his feathers, turning them black, and the smoke and ashes leave him with a hoarse voice. His beauty and lovely voice are sacrificed for his bravery.
The Great Sky Spirit rewards the bird for his selflessness and courage by giving him the gift of freedom: Rainbow Crow will never be hunted nor captured because his feathers have become black and his voice hoarse. But his black feathers will shine and reflect all the colors on Earth.
Rainbow Crow looks at his plumage and sees hundreds of rainbows shining in his black feathers. He is content and proud to be a Black Crow reflecting countless colors.
Reggie meets Jef Lee
Reggie learned of Jef Lee in 1986 after hearing from other musicians about the new guitarist that drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson had hired in his band, the Decoding Society: “This guy is a BEAST!”
The Decoding Society was performing at the old Knitting Factory in New York City so Reggie didn’t miss the opportunity to go there and see Jef Lee.
“I arrived early and went to the dressing room to find a guy sitting there shredding the guitar to pieces. I walked in and said ‘Hey Man. My name is Reggie Washington’. Jef stopped, looked up at me and said ‘Yeh Man, Jef Lee Johnson! I know you… You Bad… You Bad!’
After a few years and many attempts to get together, Jef called Reggie to play with his band “News from the Jungle” at the 2002 “Sons d’Hiver” festival in France with drummer Michael Bland. In an interview that same year, Jef spoke about Reggie Washington and his desire to play with him: “I’ve always liked Reggie and tried to find an excuse to play with him and it finally happened in Paris”.
In 2010, Reggie created the band “Music of the Phrase” with DJ Grazzhoppa, Jef Lee and Patrick Dorcéan on drums and they toured Europe together.
In 2011, Reggie formed & toured with a “Dream Team” trio featuring Jef Lee and Gene Lake and later that year recorded the CD “FREEDOM”, released in 2012.
Rainbow Shadow – A Tribute to Jef Lee Johnson
Reggie wanted to record this CD for several reasons.
He’s been a fan of Jef Lee’s music since they met. “Jef merits a wider recognition for his work and music. His songs tell many life stories. I feel they deserve to be heard and understood”.
During the time Jef was in Reggie’s trio with Gene Lake (“FREEDOM”), Reggie wanted to play some of Jef’s tunes. But Jef would usually decline, with the excuse that he didn’t remember the lyrics or he would say: “Let’s do one of your tunes instead” or “If you like them so much, why don’t you do them yourself?”
When Jef passed away in January 2013, the French festival “Sons d’Hiver” called Reggie to see if he could put together a tribute for Jef Lee Johnson. Jef was originally on the program with his trio. This concert, which Reggie played with Jean-Paul Bourelly and Patrick Dorcéan, sparked the desire to continue the project with the members of “Music of the Phrase”. Hence the birth of « RAINBOW SHADOW »
Jef was intrigued by how DJ Grazzhoppa functioned in the “Music of the Phrase” band. He wasn’t just a DJ and could contribute as a musician would. Jef also fell in love with the playing of Patrick Dorcéan who soon after became the drummer in his band « Jef Lee Johnson Band » from 2011 to 2013.
Marvin Sewell was one of Jef’s favorite guitarists on the scene. Jef always spoke positively about his sound. It was an obvious choice to ask Marvin to be a part of this tribute.
In January 2014, Reggie, Marvin, DJ Grazzhoppa and Patrick recorded for a week at Moods Studio in Brittany, France — the studio of trumpeter/composer Alex Tassel. Reggie followed up with several months of work on the tracks, developing ideas, adding solos, vocals and editing.
Then in September 2014 musicians that had played with Jef, knew Jef, or whom Jef loved were invited to contribute their skills to the project: Chico Huff, Yohannes Tona, Wallace Roney, Dana Leong, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Lili Anel, Jonathan Crayford, Monique Harcum & TIBOO.
The cover of the album, composed of 9 photos of Reggie, was photographed in October 2014 by David Crunelle. It captures moments of a conversation in which Reggie was explaining to David his friendship and feelings for Jef Lee.
MARVIN SEWELL – guitar
Marvin is a Chicago native that grew up in a rich and wealthy musical environment. Jef loved his unique approach and his true down-home flavor.
He has played with Cassandra Wilson, Regina Carter, Lizz Wright, The Baylor Project …
DJ GRAZZHOPPA – turntables
Grazz’s ability to be a musician and understand the musician’s function in a band was what Jef most respected.
He has played with Aka Moon, Alex Tassel, DJ Big Band, Mo & Grazz …
PATRICK DORCÉAN – drums
Pat has just the right balance of rough and subtle with a solid groove — gifts that Jef loved.
He has played with Fred Wesley, Ursus Minor, Zap Mama, Marc Moulin …
From the Johnson Family
Through the music of our brother Jef Lee Johnson, we have been the recipients of an amazing outpouring of thoughtfulness and support from his friends and colleagues and left to bathe in an afterglow of goodwill, good memories and great music…
That support has been further realized through the making of this CD and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Reggie Washington & Stefany Calembert (Jef’s “European Family”) whose hard work, faith and commitment to Jef’s music made this CD a reality; Jammin’colorS Management, Asperanto & Nato Music whose focus and diligence helped to forge a path for Jef’s music that lead to international audiences and recognition; and to an amazing group of musicians and friends who through their incredible talents, camaraderie and collaborative spirits came together to contribute to this very special project – a project that will keep Jef’s music alive… and “over the world”.
All Jef ever wanted was for his music to be heard – this CD goes a long, long way towards making that happen.
The Johnson Family
More to Come
We will record other volumes of « Rainbow Shadow » to continue spreading Jef Lee’s music with the help of artists who were close to him.
To learn more about Jef Lee Johnson, feel free to visit his website: www.jefleejohnson.com
The physical CD will be available on June 1st, 2015 via:
You can also order the CD by sending an e-mail to [email protected]
The album will be released digitally in June 2016.