Originally from Oregon, Jeryl has completed a Master of Music degree in composition from Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and a Bachelor of Music Degree at the University of Oregon School of Music with dual majors in Piano Performance and Music Theory.
While in Oregon, she began studying Afro-Cuban music, an undertaking which has taken her on an adventure that has so far included multi-year freelance tenures in both Los Angeles and New York City. In Los Angeles she performed predominantly with Orquesta Son Mayor, also
performing occasionally with Johnny Polanco y su Conjunto Amistad and others.
‘What She Said’ is the resulting answer to the question Jeryl asked herself, “Can I compose?” This is a good big band Latin sound with reeds and horns leading the way with excellent support from the percussionists. ‘Yemaya – Okuo and Other Songs’ has a more traditional, world music feel to it with percussion and vocals taking the lead with support from Jeryl at the piano and keyboard. I like the way Jeryl has fused the traditional with a more contemporary jazz/classical sound without taking anything away from the source material. The Johnston composed ‘Sixtune’ opens with a simple, repeated percussion phrase over which Jeryl plays the melody on keyboard. The percussion and bass are subtle on this tune allowing the focus to be concentrated on Jeryl’s playing. I very much enjoyed this track with its simple complexity of rhythms and flowing melodic lines.
As an EP this release works well and gives a flavour of what Jeryl Johnston is doing as a composer and pianist. The three tracks are different in style and delivery with strong performances throughout. According to Jeryl the EP’s “title stems from a desire to take back a phrase often used with questionable intent and employ it to both comment upon the lack of inclusion of women in Latin music, and to celebrate the listeners and musicians who support them.” On the strength of this release, available via Bandcamp, Jeryl Johnston is a woman with a place in Latin music.
What She Said will be available from Friday, 12 August, 2022 with the title track going out on ‘Sounds Like Jazz’ the same day.
Tracklist: 1. What She Said. 2. Yemaya – Okuo and Other Songs. 3. Sixtune.
Musicians: Jeryl Johnston – piano/keyboards; Louis Bauzo – lead percussion/vocals; Ray Alcantara – percussion/vocals; Greg Askew – percussion; Richard Byrd – lead vocals/percussion; Jerome Goldschmidt – percussion; Bernie Miñoso – bass; Al Acosta – saxophones; Demitrios Kehagias – trombones; Carmen Laboy – baritone sax; John Walsh – trumpet.