Shadow Crow Review

Jef Lee Johnson, Magic Intact

Saturday, 23 February 2013 18:16 | Written by Frédéric Goaty


Thus, tonight’s winter Sons d’Hiver, Jef Lee Johnson aka Rainbow Crow was no longer ours. But thanks to Reggie Washington’s true love for the blues of his takeoff companion, his magic resonated through the strings of another singular guitarist: Jean-Paul Bourelly.


Jeff Lee Johnson, R.Washington, P. Dorcean, JP Bourelly
@ Mac Créteil Maison des Arts, Sons d’hiver, Paris by
Pascal Martos



Jean-Paul Bourelly (guitar, vocals), Reggie Washington (bass, vocals), Patrick Dorcéan (drums). Créteil Maison des Arts, Friday, Feb. 22.



The tribute was therefore as captivating as it was mesmerizing, for the former bassist of Five Elements of Steve Coleman, Buckshot LeFonque and RH Factor could not have found a better blues preacher than Jean Paul Bourelly for the music of Jef Lee Johnson relived on stage – one last time? Fingers crossed that others continue to interpret these delicate songs and blues to willingly poetic words.


We will be back soon, in another magazine covering the art and the style Jef Lee Johnson. Because, as he sang it so well,


“Everything starts right now.”


In the meantime, check out this concert on Arte Live Web:




Frédéric Goaty

Lawrence “Butch” Morris February 10, 1947 – January 27, 2013


Hangin with Butch, NYC April 2012


“Butch’s approach gave us a new way to express and control the improvisational impulse with a larger group.

He figured out the pratical means of keeping ideas cohesive. This is a game changer. With the Conduction technique in hand, large format ensembles will be liberated, tooled with the means of expressing that illusive, “urgent spontaneity”  that has served to fortify black cultural expression and identity of Africans in the Americans. This has until now been mostly the exculsive domain of the trio or quartet. Not any more.



On the personal level Butch was somewhat of a social genius. He had a way of handling people of all walks of life that was very special and personal.

I was in a Turkish bar with him in Berlin once and he had such a deep friendship with the bartender neither of them could speak the others language but they had a great communication, irony, jokes all of it.
It was all non verbal and intimate. That was Butch. ”


It was a great honor and pleasure to learn from him through the years and be effect by this innovative thinker.



JP Bourelly

JPB in concert, In memory of Jeff Lee Johnson, Feb. 22. 2013 Paris

Jeff Lee Johnsons music is a gleaming example of a guitarist who moved seamlessly through the traditions of the blues, r&b jazz and freeform treating them all as one extended language yet housing those ideas cleverly in a pop structure format that allowed it to travel well. Jeff Lee’s music carried the sonic signifiers that ones ear was accustom to if you were aware of the rich arch of important American music. One could hear Watt stacks, Texas Blues, Memphis blues , Prince, Wes Montgomery, Hendrix with a twinge of the rural heartland.


Yet he still possessed that wide perspective that stretched from the chaotic surges, reminiscent of  Sonny Sharrock superimposed over verses filled with playful, bitter, sweet irony,”



“It got thumbs up, It got five stars, It got that nod now, Ev’rybody wants one”

” It ain’t Hard for you, You just sail on through”.


His chordal movements had a sentimental touch to them, yet stayed firm and never fell into the syrup bowl. He above all was a voice on guitar who left a body of work of cleverly crafted songs that used popular forms to express his most intimate and urgent messages.



I will appear in this concert dedicated to his memory and his music entitled “Rainbow Shadow”

With his close friend on bass Reggie Washington and drummer Patrice Dorcean.

22nd of February in Paris, France at the festival Sons d’ hiver .


His music will undoubtable live on.   JPB


check it here:


Bourelly’s Guitar Workshop “Polyrhythm the Blues and Reduction”

I give a workshop for all instrument that deals with getting to what I would call, retrieving purposeful improvisation. This workshop looks at the combined forces of rhythm, most particularly polyrhythm, sonic manipulation and reduction, to enliven interplay within a group situation.

Those are some of the themes I have been gravitating towards when I workshop with my group and when I am teaching students.This workshop tries to avert the pitfall of the auto pilot solo tendencies by manipulating these multipule elements during soloing and performing a melody.


I take the participants through a series of exercises that promote free association and bring the players more into the consciousness of dialogue with a rhythm section. Thus avoiding a static drums beat over a static series of preconceived ideas or gymnastic tricks.


We break up this willing complicity with a little sensitivity training as well.  Instead of putting more notes in the exchange, I try to get the player to establish an idea, then go through a cycle, reducing that idea down to fewer parts of the puzzle each time around. This training encourages disciple and also shows how playing less can be an effective direction in creating unique opportunities for meaningful interplay as a soloist leading a rhythm section.



On the sensitivity training side, I take the players through a series of exercises were we place a consciousness on  listening to ones own playing with the ear of an outsider (one in the audience).


This is a  mental training to separate the stages of hearing and to suggest separating the stages of emotions, to detect different stages of emotion that one may go through during a solo and identify how to keep a solo or melodic verse alive and vibrant.


I mean there is a strong visual image that can trigger you into some more interesting tonal territory To be the observer of emotions or the provocateur.



There are also visual techniques that we use to open up the mind and soul, imagining the imagination as a with the ablities to adjust and tune into subtle degrees of phrasing, dynamics, dramatic use of space and sonic expression. This machine imagery is effected by leaving the player free to reinvent his/her self and superimpose another identity on the journey of discovering ones capabilities.



I use the Butch Morris technique of conduction to direct the players through ensemble passages and in so doing, by the end of a workshop,  we achieve a complete original work, embedded with the techniques of polyrhythm, sonic purpose and reduction.



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