With the commercial and Billboard chart success of his NAACP Image Award nominated CD, “Poetically Justified” (#4) in his rearview and having been included among the ranks of contemporary jazz greats such as Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, and Vanessa Williams, for that nomination, Marcus Johnson is set to release his 12th CD titled, “This is How I Rock”, on July 27th. This album boldly signifies an evolution: Johnson’s deliberate crossing into the pop/rock genre with a jazz spin, inspired by some of pop music’s most celebrated songs, songs that remained a significant influence in the life of the award-winning keyboardist, composer and producer and motivated his desire to pay tribute to some of the greatest pop hits.
“This Is How I Rock” exemplifies Johnson’s versatility and brilliant interpretive skills. Listeners from the novice to the jazz connoisseur will be utterly engaged by Johnson’s signature jazz funk sound; and neither will be disappointed. The CD is set into motion with the first lick of the guitar on Fly Like An Eagle, in which Johnson on Fender Rhodes ascends his unique sound to new heights in this rousing rendition of a soft rock favorite. Johnson’s deliberate and soulful progression continues with Fly and The Family Stone’s classic Thank You (For Letting Me Be Myself). Teaming up once more with Najee for a new twist, Johnson provides the shimmering ethereal sound from his Fender Rhodes, while Najee generously supplies his funky saxophone swagger. Johnson’s collaborative enthusiasm is reflected on Virtual Insanity and the Hall Oates’ hit, I Can’t Go For That, the lead single of “This Is How I Rock”. Johnson adds a sophisticated piano sheen on both songs, drawing upon the expertise of Robert McDonald, producer of “Cherish the Journey”, from Johnson’s last CD, “Poetically Justified”. Virtual Insanity showcases a majestic string arrangement featuring violinist Bobby Yang. Woven between these two emerging hits is Rise, Johnson's approach to Herb Alpert's chart topping single, featuring trumpeter Greg Adams from Tower of Power. This track seductively blends Johnson’s intricate and hypnotic piano accompaniment with Adams’ smoky trumpet. A delicate unpretentious shift gives listeners Johnson’s interpretation of Mas Que Nada. Johnson maintains the uniquely Brazilian flavor of Sergio Mendez while adding the exotic background vocals of Maysa. The persistent synergy of Johnson’s body of work flows around and through Come Together; Johnson owns the jazz funk on the remake of this Beatles’ classic. His version of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit is the last offering on this CD. Johnson is unrushed as a tranquil piano swells to a mesmerizing crescendo of mind-blowing ivory and breathtaking rock guitar. It is the dynamic influence on this entire project.