The Phoenix is Marcus Johnson's tenth recording and features 11 brand new songs from both new and established songwriters. The keyboardist/composer/producer offers a solid and balanced set filled with urban grooves, contemporary jazz, R&B and hip-hop with a little help from friends -- saxophonist Phillip Martin, vocalist Frank McComb and guitarist Stanley Cooper, among others. Johnson has developed a real talent for smooth jazz as well as having a hand in getting inside the groove and soul of his R&B cohort Raheem DeVaughn's smash hit titled "Believe." Johnson's collage of wide-ranged and interesting material is capped off with the radio hit "The Road to Los Suenos," a real smooth burner with vocals by Nikki Gonzalez that should have the club scene happening with its thumping evocation of R&B and ebullient rhythms. This song is hot and a sure sign that The Phoenix's track list is, too. "Urban Trust" kicks with its strong, funky basslines and rocking guitar solos. But it's Johnson who surprises the most on this one with his notable retro elements and sophisticated riffs that keep you hooked. Strong sax playing from Phillip Martin on "The Journey" makes it a real keeper, while Frank McComb's smooth crooning on "Love" will have you under his influence. Marcus Johnson has never forgotten his core audience but The Phoenix is sure to garner more international fans at the other end of the musical spectrum because of the reworked Latin funk fusion. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein
feat: Frank McComb