By Devon “Doc” Wendell
There is no way to properly categorize the music of the late great Jef Lee Johnson. Jef Lee possessed this uncanny impulsive creative spirit that will inspire forever. Reggie Washington taps into that beautifully creative side to pay tribute to Jef Lee Johnson on Rainbow Shadow Vol. 2. Without abandoning his own distinct musical identity.
There’s a delightfully haunting aspect to this album that is both nostalgic and experimental. All songs were written by Jef Lee Johnson except for a minor key dirge instrumental of Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell” with fantastic guitar work by Marvin Sewell and tasteful drumming by Patrick Dorcean. Washington’s funtacular bass work serves as the centerpiece for each composition. “Silence,” ‘Hype (Part 1),” “RSJ,” “It Ain’t Hard For You,” “Testimony/Open Up” and “The Moon Keeps Telling Me” get inside the harmonic world of Jef Lee Johnson but it’s still all Reggie Washington and his incredible lineup of musicians such as DJ GRazzhoppa, Saxophonist John Massa and vocalists Tiboo, Mulan Lee Washington and Monique Harcum that you feel first and foremost. “Blind Willie McTell” and “The Moon Keeps Telling Me” were recorded live inn France and Germany.
Washington’s vocals on “Cake” are superb. That sly, funky, laid back but constantly searching wit of Jef Lee Johnson’s music is captured perfectly on this number. The guitar solos by Herve Samb and Marvin Sewell burn beyond belief. And speaking of burning guitar solos, NYC six string masters Jimi Hazel of 24/7 Spyz and Ronny Drayton tear shit up on “Sizzlean.” This is one of Jef Lee’s most known songs for those who know. Reggie’s vocals are very close to Jef Lee’s here. Reggie knows this music intimately so you get Jef Lee’s poetry, melodic and harmonic soul loud, clear and precise.
This definitely feels like a concept album. Ambient sounds weave in and out of the songs like a psychedelic dream dipped in sticky filth thanks to DJ Grazzhoppa. The music is unapologetically funky. Reggie Washington and his versatile band serve up an album for lovers of jazz, funk, soul and rock. Rainbow Shadow Vol. 2 is simply not to be missed by all music lovers of the undying rainbow.