Part One from my new Soliloquy Talk Series - Excerpted from, To Say Goodbye - The Maurice Johnson Story.
Title: "REMEMBERING MY MOTHER"
Discription: The story begins in Milwaukee Wisconsin as I recall the events following the untimely death of my…
I've been working pretty hot and heavy in the studio recording a long overdue independent solo release since the breakup of the After Five Band. It's been a lot of work and I'm enjoying every minute of it.
This former AFTER FIVE guitarist / band leader and Warlock Records recording artist has reemerged as a true renaissance man who shows no sign of slowing down.
Born 1959 in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Maurice Johnson was introduced to the guitar at age fifteen when his older brother, David bought his first guitar and paid for lessons. For the most part a self-taught musician listening to the likes of George Benson and Wes Montgomery, Maurice’s keen ear, sense of timing and natural aptitude for jazz hardly went unnoticed by more traditionally trained musicians and intermittent guitar teachers who would often ask the youthful guitarist to teach them a new lick or technique.
In the mid 80’s he formed his own band calling them selves After Five Jazz and in 1992 signed to independent New York label, Warlock Records with the release of their Expressions CD. In this recording debut Maurice demonstrates a remarkable sense of melody with his tasteful and emotional ballad, Soft Notes along with two more original cuts, Some Kind of Lady and When You’re Gone.
Their striking performances and masterful musicianship never went unnoticed. Maurice and the After Five band were later featured on BET Network’s, Jazz Central and shared the stage with a growing list of greats including George Benson, Stanley Banks, George Howard, Norman Brown, Nancy Wilson, Al Green, Alex Bungon, Stanley Turrentine, Little Melton, Mary Wright, Ronny Laws, Lala Hathaway, Jennifer Holiday, Freddy Jackson, Terry Lynn Carrington, Tom Rotella, Larry Coryell, Barney Kessel and a host of others.
As the early 90’s unfolded, Maurice found himself at the helm of a unique industry as co-founder of D’Leco Acoustic Instruments, a small guitar company in Oklahoma City with luthier, partner James W. Dale. The two built and marketed handcrafted arch top Jazz guitars. A unique twist of fate and by virtue of a mutual acquaintance the two were introduced triggering a historic chain of events. After a chance encounter with the daughter of legendary Jazz great, Charlie Christian they designed and licensed two exclusive lines of Charlie Christian guitars to American manufacturer, Gibson Guitars and Samick Musical Instruments in Korea.
It wasn’t until 1996 when Maurice published his first book, The New! Working Musician’s One Organizer with Mel Bay Publications. This was a pivotal point, and for a time would redefine Maurice’s direction and focus. In 1999 his second book, Build and Manage Your Music Career was published with Mix Books and was later re-released with Artistpro Press in 2000. Maurice’s experience, insight and goals as a bandleader inspired him to further still undertake a personal and painstaking endeavor to develop Gigorama, the popular Windows software program designed to aid musicians and performing artists manage their own entertainment careers. In 2003 Maurice would write a third book titled after his software, Gigorama, the Complete Management Software for Musicians, also under the Artistpro imprint. Maurices' ability to tastefully stylize a melodic theme with the rich timbre and dynamic presence of a seasoned vocalist is masterful. Many will compare him to the likes of George Benson and Wes Montgomery, but make no mistake, Maurice is in a league all his own.
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Master Maurice...love your efforts totally...masterful musicianship....great image work covering your personna, and style....a great package well done!!! Nice chops on the guitar too, great coordination with the group....everyones' cookin'...stylin' in synch....great energies all around...Bravo! My best to you (all) ....always b
Jaijai, what a wonderful mission you've undertaken to create such a place for artistic minds to meet and share their hearts. A place to renew faded determinations, and revive lessened momentums. A place to display our wares and reconfirm to one another that we actually are on the right track.
I commend you, Jaijai, for caring so much that you created this castle of the heart for all of us. I want to share my praise for all of the new friends as well as old friends that I've met and will meet here in our castle. Here we can garnish the where-with-all, the strength, the conviction, and the selflessness through our symbiosis, to share our gift to the world with an unbiased agenda.
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says of art: "A beautiful flower delights and refreshes the hearts of all people equally, no matter what soil it grows in. That is the power of beauty. The same is true of great art. It is this spirit that the German poet Heinrich Heine sang of when he wrote that once the peapod bursts open, the sugar peas inside are for everyone to enjoy."