I interviewed Esperanza Spalding guitarist Matthew Stevens for Guitar Player in 2017, after the release of his amazing record, Preverbal. He hadn’t taken it our live often yet, so here are some later videos, as well as a clinic he did in Amsterdam with his band.
Jef Lee Johnson was one of those unrecognized genius guitarists who haunt the history of the instrument. His is not exactly a local hero story: where a brilliant guitarist labors in the neighborhood clubs, unknown to anyone outside his town. Johnson was respected widely enough to have worked with: George Duke, Al Jarreau, Patti Labelle, James Carter, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Mariah Carey, Stanley Clarke, Aretha Franklin, Ronald Shannon Jackson, McCoy Tyner, Esperanza Spalding, Chaka Khan, David Sanborn, and a host of others. It is more a tale of a talent who never broke out as a solo artist, failing to find the wider recognition brought about by your name on the marquee.