This CD has something for everyone. It’s a blend of smooth jazz, R&B grooves, and as Marcus himself puts it, the DC sound. The CD supports a number of moods. At times the songs are soft and mellow, quite suited to a laid back, romantic evening at home. At other times the songs are funky and groove worthy, ready to hit the clubs. There are 19 tracks total, including some non-musical/verbal interludes, plus one bonus track.
This CD is formatted very much like an interview. Between tracks a woman asks Marcus about his music and his latest CD. Marcus responds both vocally, and through his music. This is a clever way of introducing the music to people who may not be familiar with it, as well as giving the seasoned Marcus Johnson fan a little something extra.
After a brief interlude, the CD opens with Marcus on keys playing the title track “Just Doin’ What I Do” with David Dyson matching him note for note on bass. The radio single, “18th & M” (co-written by John Blasucci and Three Keys recording artist Nick Colionne), is upbeat and catchy. It’s a fine choice for a first single and should be a good fit with most commercial radio stations.
One of the standout tunes is “RJ’s Groove.” It’s got a great beat and will make you want to dance.
There are also several vocal tunes on this CD as well. Most of them are sung by Frank “Scoob” Marshall, who does a good job as lead vocalist on the R&B flavored “Love,” and on the accompanying vocals in the (Beyonce Knowles) song, “Me, Myself, and I.”
There is plenty of appealing original music on this CD, as well as interesting covers of other songs. Marcus Johnson has opted to include covers of the Alicia Keys tune “If I Ain’t Got You,” and a Nina Simone song called “Just To Get By.” The vocals on “If I Ain’t Got You” have been replaced by the soulful renderings of the keyboard. The bonus track (also a clever marketing trick by the folks at Three Keys) of Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years” is in good hands with Three Keys recording artist Alyson Williams on lead vocals.
The one criticism I have is that although there are several tunes that include saxophones, there is no mention in the liner notes, other than on the track “I Wanna,” of who the sax player or players are on this CD. The listener is left to wonder if Mike Burton performed all the sax parts, or were there other players involved.
Overall, I enjoyed this CD, and I’m glad I purchased it. Both long time fans and newbie’s alike, will appreciate the sounds and musicals styling of Marcus Johnson.
- Mary Bentley