The Leee John Jazz Quartet

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Last Show: Saturday 23 rd April 2022

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

This year see’s the 40th Anniversary of the incomparable Leee John, the unmistakable soul stirring lead vocalist from 80's soul funk group – IMAGINATION, (1981 – 2022) who sold millions of records all the around the world with such timeless classic hit songs like 'Body Talk', 'Just an illusion', 'In The Heat Of The Night', 'Flashback' and many more. To mark this very special milestone anniversary year, we are planning a series of special one off unique performances with the Leee John Jazz Quartet showing his continuous diversity in music across multi genres, including his more classic musical presentation in the jazz world, and his last critically acclaimed solo album 'Feel My Soul'. Recorded in Rochfort, France which became an award winning International critical success across Europe. Join us for an evening of eclectic, harmonic soul and jazz fusions presented in that true unforgettable Leee John vocal style, together with his Jazz quartet musicians in create the ultimate musical jazz evolution.

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Altering perception is a funny thing. It’s seemingly human nature to assume that if one is skilled or has mastered one arena of life, it’s unlikely that one could excel in another. Strange, isn’t it? This is particularly true in the area of entertainment. How many actors or actresses have attempted to develop and sustain musical careers? And vice-versa, only a handful of successful recording artists have made a serious mark on the silver screen.

What, you might ask, has that to do with the CD you’re preparing to play? Well, it’s pretty simple: for the best part of two decades, the multi-talented Leee John was the ‘voice’ and ‘face’ of one of the most successful international pop dance-soul groups of the ’80s and ‘90s. Imagination amassed millions of sales worldwide through hit singles and albums, building a solid and loyal audience from one continent to another. An obvious move when choosing to step out to make a first solo album would be to make a brilliant soul record.

After all, Leee’s love for R&B reaches back to his teen years and his passion for the genre is evident in his almost encyclopedic knowledge! But, taking on the courage of his musical convictions, the ever- adventurous Mr. John picked a less obvious milieu for that crucial leap into another musical domain. Inherently fraught with critical analysis, jazz is no walk in the park for the faint of heart. If you’re gonna do it, do it right or don’t do it at all!

Having known Leee since he was but a teenager (and I, not much more!) when he timidly (if you can imagine Leee John as ever being timid!) walking into the offices of Britain’s acclaimed “Blues & Soul” magazine on Hanway Street in London’s West End with his best friend Russell to ask if I’d interview them for the magazine on the occasion of the release of their first single, I have known him as a bold risk-taker! When he first mentioned that he had cut a jazz record in France, I was, well, a little surprised. That surprise turned to delight when I heard the result last year. “Feel My Soul” displayed a maturity and command of the jazz idiom that suggested he’d been working in the genre for decades. Yes, there was a touch of Al Jarreau, a hint of Bobby McFerrin, a dash of George Benson but in its essence, it was Leee John doing Leee John – to reference a ‘60s Aretha Franklin Columbia album title – tender, moving and swinging, and he did it well, very well.

Fate, destiny, coincidence – call it what you will: I had scheduled my first trip to Paris for overthirty years in October, 2006 to meet with some of the loyal customers who had supported my website, Turned out that the very evening I was due to arrive, Leee John was making an appearance at the renowned New Morning jazz club in the city, as part of the annual JVC presentations there. From the moment he stepped onto reference for the art form was immediately in effect.

Whether venturing into territory previously created by such greats as Billie Holiday (“God Bless The Child”) or Billie and Nina Simone (the stark, emotionally charged “Strange Fruit”) or Nancy Wilson and Johnny Mathis (“Small World”) or the standard “Embraceable You” or introducing the great original material on “Feel My Soul,” standout tunes such as the snappy “Jazzamatazz,” “Sensuality,”  “Flamingo Blue” and the anthemic “Now Is The Time (C’est Le Moment),” Leee was fully musically at home and clearly enjoying every moment of displaying his jazz chops. 

The Parisian audience responded in kind, with enthusiasm and appreciation as Leee took us on a journey through “Feel My Soul.” Personally, I was deeply moved by his unrelentingly honest take on “Strange Fruit,” a song to be tackled by only those who are prepared to draw from the depths of their own being. I loved his very personal reading of the time-honored classic “Someone To Watch Over Me.” And like those also familiar with the classic Imagination hits, I got totally caught up in Leee’s re-working of “Just An Illusion,” complete with some serious scattin’! Ever one to connect with audiences in live performance, the inimitable Mr. John ended a memorable evening in Paris with a musical testimony yet to be recorded in the studio.

The super-soulful “It’s You I Need” begged for audience participation and we responded in kind. It was fitting conclusion to a night to remember, Leee John validating that his musical integrity is intact, bringing the music on “Feel My Soul” to life, with authenticity, honesty and passion. 

Happy I was there to witness it and that music buy ers worldwide will get a chance to experience Leee John in his element. Enjoy!

   David Nathan

(a/k/a “The British Ambassador Of Soul”)

Band Line Up

LEEE JOHN (vocals)

Dr John Watson (keys)

Miles Danso (bass)

Dave Mansell (brass)

Sophie Alloway (drums)