Soul Express Interview with
Johnny Britt to release a jazz CD later this year
heard dozens of first class soul tracks during the last year, but actually
quite few classy albums. Arguably one of the most consistent sets released
recently is the latest album by the magical duo Impromp2, titled It
Is What It Is, which spent four months at the number one spot of our
own Serious Soul Chart
(recommended new soul albums), and the CD is also our
editor’s choice for 2007's Album of the Year. But can the CD really be
classified as a “soul album” when the creative twosome does not seem to like to
be pigeonholed in any one genre? We decided to consult the lead singer and
trumpetist Johnny Britt for his own opinion.
Express: The genre of your music (and this album
specifically) has always been questioned, whether it is jazz, neo-soul or
whatever. But as the title of your album It Is What It Is suggests,
would this be the answer, or do you prefer that your music doesn’t respond to
any labels and categories?
JB:Basically we just come up with the sound that we hear, and because
we come from different backgrounds, the music is a mixture of everything that
we're about, so different people have their own opinion about what it is. We
just like to call it good music!
Express: While the radio world especially in the U.S. is very categorized into different types of music, have you received airplay and if
you have, from what kind of radio stations?
JB: It’s funny because when people get a chance to hear the music they
love it. We haven’t really gone after radio here in the States as of yet. However,
that’s about to change.
Express: The album boasts an amazing line-up of
legendary musicians such as Wah Wah Watson, Marcus Miller, Michael White,
Sekou Bunch, Norman Brown, Ray Parker Jr., George Duke, Ndugu Chancler,
Clifford Adams, Paul Jackson Jr. etc. Was it difficult to get all those
stars for this recording?
JB No, not at all. They're all actually my friends and they love what
we're doing with Impromp2 so it was just a phone call.
Express: Your new album was self-produced. Did this
make it different from your earlier three sets?
JB: It was different in the fact that as producers we have complete
control of everything on the album, and because of that, we were very satisfied
with the album from top to bottom.
Express: There is a song titled Mojazz,
which refers to the label for which you recorded your first two albums. Can you
tell something about the track?
JB: The track was inspired by the death of J. Spencer, our
friend and label mate on MoJazz. Sean and I said that we would write a
song in his memory. Then we got the idea of bringing in all of the artists that
were with us on MoJazz and decided to bring in additional cats like George
Duke, Harvey Mason, Boney James, members of Take 6 and Freddie
Express: There is a successful version of Marvin
Gaye’s You Sure Love to Ball, entitled Luv 2 Ball. How did
you end up covering that particular tune?
JB:We are obviously huge fans of Marvin (it was a no-brainer). Luv
2 Ball will be our first single here in the States this summer and I just
finished recording my trumpet a few minutes ago for the jazz version of Luv
2 Ball. The song selection was Sean's idea.
Express: Can’t wait to hear the jazz version! At
which kind of venues and places have you performed recently? Any chances of
seeing you in Europe the next summer? Maybe some jazz festival would be ideal?
JB: We've only been doing spot dates in the States up to this point.
We're working hard to get on a tour and an international booking agent!
Express: You have mentioned that you'll be
releasing a jazz version of your recent album this year; will it include the
same talented musicians such as Boney James and Paul Jackson Jr? Or will you
introduce other talents?
JB It will be all of the giants that are on It Is What It Is, but
we will be introducing some more surprise guest stars.
Express: I believe you did not define what your
record label 'JCS' stands for; could it mean Johnny Britt, Chris Many
and Sean Thomas by any chance?
JB: We like to say it stands for "Jesus Christ Saves" which
we believe, but it does stand for Johnny, Chris and Sean.
Express: Your song “You're a Queen” seems to
comment on the rap and r&b music of today. Could you elaborate more on your
feelings of the music industry today and how it portrays women?
JB: We feel that the industry is so shallow. The way they are
brainwashing our youth is crazy. If they didn't sign this type of stuff, it
wouldn't be out there. We simply feel that music is very powerful and mothers,
daughters and sisters of all races should be treated with the utmost respect.
When you have the biggest-selling rappers degrading all of our women, that's a
very serious problem and we're trying to do something about it with our song
“You're a Queen”.
Express: Johnny, your wife wrote “It Was Love”,
your music seems central to your relationship and even your faith, which
creates this strong bond, and your music highlights this.
JB:Thank you! We are musicians and like I said music is powerful. I
don't take the gift that God has given me lightly. My wife is a very talented
songwriter and it brings me joy to be able to work with someone that I love so
much. It does strengthen our relationship and our faith. “It Was Love” is a
very powerful song.
Soul Express: You (Johnny) had a solo track "In the
Meantime" on the City Teacher soundtrack album on Expansion. Do you
have a plan to do a solo project in the near future? What kind of music would
JB: It’s funny you should ask. As it turns out Preston Glass and
I are talking about working together on my solo project. We are in the
decision-making process at this point – but it will be hot!
Soul Express: What kind of future plans do you have?
JB: 1.Releasing It Is What It Is in the States this summer
2. Finishing my solo album with Preston 3. Working on a solo jazz album of
American classic standards 4. Working on a Praise and Worship CD of my
wife’s songs. 5. Releasing the Impromp2 jazz album. Thanks for all your
support. We appreciate you and all your work and love all the Impromp2 fans out
Interview by Ismo Tenkanen & Kristina Goggin, Soul Express
Read Barry Towler's review of Impromp2's latest set:
Impromp2: It Is What It Is
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