George Johnson was smart to puff up his name into George A. Johnson, Jr. for the release of the 1997 solo effort Turquoise Ocean. His discography prior to that, full of solid accompaniment for a range of artists from Dr. Lonnie Smith to Lonnie Liston Smith, can seem on the verge of losing a beat or two due to the confusion regarding such a common name. A variety of jazzmen with the name George Johnson have been active since the genre's earliest days, not to mention the funkmeister George Johnson of the Brothers Johnson.
Johnson, Jr. has been performing steadily since the early '70s, although recording evidence is a bit sporadic compared to other gentlemen who tote drum cases around. His timing is good, nonetheless, and that is not a reference to what he does with drumsticks in his hands. He was just beginning his own career when he began collaborating with well-established artists such as alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson and organist Charles Earland. He thus established credentials as a historical force in a style of rhythmically powerful jazz that has acquired much status with age. Part of that status includes a following from the acid jazz and hip-hop listeners who also seem to enjoy swimming in the Turquoise Ocean, giving this Johnson, Jr. plenty of attention in privately traded mix compilations. Johnson, Jr. composed some of the material on that album, but like many drummer/bandleaders in jazz,he turns over much of the solo space to his horn front line.