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Guitarist Jef Lee Johnson - Met and Remembered in a Day

Photo cred: Mark Stehle
April 3, 2014
Jef  Lee Johnson recently came into my radar-- though he had a long & respected career playing with lots of heavies, most recently Esperanza Spaulding. Yeah, just upon discovering him and getting into his playing, I also find that he died in January 2013. So I feel emotionally confused writing this blog post today.

The above video, from a 2009 concert in France, reveals only a small facet of Johnson's playing. If it starts out too chill for you, just skip ahead to 06:30. In this show he displays sort of a Hendrixy Scofield vibe that also reminds me of Scott Henderson's playing on "Canine" from Tribal Tech's album Face First. Visually, he takes on a Wayne Shorter with guitar look.

A visit to YouTube channel Manray2 (Jef's channel we assume) explodes into an endless array of possibilities; visually as well as musically. Jef was getting into some creative video media. Check out MOVE. He also did some crazy covers, i.e. Coltrane's Giant Steps with a Chet Atkins groove and steel guitar bends-- as well as a wah pedal SATCHURATED Hendrix' Rainy Day Dream Away (ya gotta hear these!).

All this, and I only just got familiar with this guy! He passed from complications of diabetes & pneumonia. Life is short, and can take unexpected turns-- so be creative as you can like Jef Lee Johnson.

See Jef Lee Johnson profile at Philly.com

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