RIP Jef Lee Johnson: The Greatest Guitarist You Never Heard
Discovered this guy years ago. Definitely a unique sound and style. I own his first two solo CD's and have had the pleasure of seeing him live on numerous occasions. Always a favourite, his genuine, passionate music has never left my playlist.
My introduction to Jef was hearing this on the TV show "Homicide: Life on the Street", and after a bit of pre-internet sleuthing found out it was JLJ
Reports are coming in from those close to Jef Lee Johnson that the Philadelphia guitarist has passed away. The cause of his death has not been revealed, nor has his age, though he was likely 53 or 54.
Johnson's career spans both numerous decades and genres, as he played with everyone from Esperanza Spalding to Questlove and The Roots. An article on Johnson in the Philadelphia City Paper notes that he actually learned his guitar chops by playing with jazz giant McCoy Tyner, a fellow Philly native and one of the greatest pianists of our time.
Johnson was also an essential member of The Soultronics, a massive super-group featuring members of the Roots, keyboardist James Poyser, bassist Pino Palladino, and others. This connection led to him working on such classics as Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun and Common's Like Water for Chocolate. Johnson also toured extensively as a member of D'Angelo's backing band.