Jared Johnson & Next of Kin | The Grapes of Wrath Project

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Folk: Folk-Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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The Grapes of Wrath Project

by Jared Johnson & Next of Kin

This recording of original compositions in a modern jazz/folk style are my reflections on John Steinbeck's American classic. Melodic and improvisational, groove and freedom, time and space.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Land Turtle
7:43 $0.99
2. All Men Got One Big Soul
7:00 $0.99
3. Joe Davis's Boy
9:25 $0.99
4. Rose of Sharon
5:51 $0.99
5. Ma
6:03 $0.99
6. Hooverville
4:52 $0.99
7. So Still as a Dove
6:18 $0.99
8. I'll Be There
5:32 $0.99
9. Apple Box / Go Down and Tell 'Em
5:04 $0.99
10. Her Lips Came Together and Smiled Mysteriously
5:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Grapes of Wrath Project was conceived from my love of improvisational music and my deep admiration for John Steinbeck’s classic American novel. As someone who was raised in rural Northeastern Oklahoma, this story has always resonated with me. What I have attempted with these compositions is to express musically my reflections on the story and the deep spiritual and emotional lines it has carved into my life.

Each piece in this suite is inspired by and represents a particular character or passage from the story, performed in a style I would describe as modern jazz meets Americana Folk, occasionally free and experimental. The overall feeling and mood is dark, with glimpses of the hope that sustains. These are songs, not merely tunes.

While I believe that each composition stands strong on its own, there is a cohesiveness to the entire project, thanks to the cast of players assembled here. I am so very grateful to the friends and musicians who make up the group on this recording known collectively as Next of Kin. These are some of the most gifted and creative musicians in the Muskogee/Tulsa and Nashville area. They each brought a high level of dedication to the literary concept I was reaching for while contributing their own personal and highly artistic interpretation of these simple songs. Brilliant improvisation abounds on this recording, which draws the listener further into the soul of the migrant.

The Grapes of Wrath Project premiered in the summer of 2015 at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa. The performance was narrated by author and fellow Steinbeck enthusiast John Wooley, who also contributed this review:

“As a longtime professional writer, music lover, and great admirer of John Steinbeck’s work, I felt very privileged to have been the person Jared Johnson selected to narrate his Grapes of Wrath Project: Modern Jazz Reflections. Anyone familiar with the music scene in our part of the country knows Jared for his skillful and versatile work as a drummer; I’m also lucky to know him as a fellow Steinbeck fan.
But even with that knowledge, I was hardly prepared for what he and his similarly gifted group, Next of Kin, came up with for the debut performance of The Grapes of Wrath Project. Of course, I was familiar with Steinbeck’s book and the classic scenes that continue to speak forcefully to us and our sense of compassion and fair play. And I was familiar with Jared’s facility as both composer and musician. But I was hardly prepared for the synergy of the two. In fact, it took me several run-throughs to be able to get through my part without choking up.
With The Grapes of Wrath Project: Modern Jazz Reflections, Jared Johnson adds another level to the deeply human message that still rings out from Steinbeck’s words. Sometimes as soft as a young mother’s touch, other times raging like Dust Bowl windstorms, and occasionally reaching complexities of emotion that lie beyond all words, the music Jared gives The Grapes of Wrath Project never tries to overpower the classic text that inspired it. It does, however, amplify — both respectfully and powerfully — some of the greatest and most deeply American passages ever written.”

It is my hope that you will be challenged and engaged by the spirit breathing through the music of The Grapes of Wrath Project and that it can serve as a soundscape for your own reflections on Steinbeck’s story and the timeless message it carries.

Jared Johnson, 2017



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