Album Review of
The Art of Life

Written by Joe Ross
January 17, 2019 - 12:00am EST
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Guitarist and composer Norman Johnson was born in Jamaica but now makes his home in Hartford, CT where he actively performs, teaches and records. With a smooth jazz style reminiscent of George Benson, Wes Montgomery and Earl Klugh, Johnson also has some distinctive, personalized, soulful stylings of his own. For this 25-minute album (his third project), he plays bass, piano, as well as doing the programming and background vocals. We also hear Chris Herbert and John Mastroianni (sax), Bill Holloman (horns), Jeff Holmes (trumpet), Steve Davis (trombone), Matt Dwonszyk (bass), Mitch Chakour (piano, organ), Alex Nakhimovsky (piano) and Ed Fast (drums). Vocalists include Grayson Hugh, June Bisantz, Atla DeChamplain, Poller Messer and Lisa Marien. Bisantz gives us a smooth, silky delivery on the piece she co-penned, “It’s You.” The closer, “Summer Dance,” is a lyrical conversation between Johnson’s guitar and Bill Holloman’s tenor sax. The album has a high quality, clarion sound. While only six tracks total, each has wide-ranging appeal and nice groove.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)