Entertainment

Celebrity Chef Premieres Reality Show; Bob Baldwin Honors The Beatles

“You will learn how to cook watching the show,” said celebrity chef JJ Johnson to me, a non-cooker, about his new reality show, “Just Eats with Chef JJ” airing Saturdays at noon on TV One’s new lifestyle network CLEO TV (Comcast Xfinity). “My chicken parmesan was unexpected. I cooked it as a kid. Each show (dish) is different. I even had to adjust to someone’s allergies.”

Johnson, a graduate of Culinary Institute of America whose clients have included Jennifer Hudson, Questlove, Mariah Carey and Steph and Ayesha Curry, is a partner at The Henry by JJ located in the LIFE Hotel (19 West 31st Street) in New York.

“I get up at 7:30 a.m. … take a call,” he said of his daily routine. “Roll out the house 10:30 a.m. Take one or two meetings, then I’m in the kitchen at Henry’s. I end the night in the kitchen recapping with the team. Then home to spend time with my wife.”

Viewers of “Just Eats with Chef JJ” will travel with Johnson and see all the surprises, situations and issues that come up for the celebrity chef. The reality show premiered Jan. 19, the same day the CLEO TV network launched. The new network will also offer such programs as “Living by Design with Jake and Jazz,” a reality show of two siblings who transforms living spaces; the series “Everything I Did Wrong in My 20s” and “Unwritten Rules”; talk show “Sister Cycle”; sitcom “Girlfriends,” and TV One original movies.

Celebrity guests on Johnson’s show include Laz Alonzo, Kimberly Locke, David Banner, Naturi Naughton and Koryn Hawthorne.

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Jazz keyboardist Bob Baldwin honors The Beatles with his 25th album, “Abby Road and The Beatles” (City Sketches/Red River), which features vocal assistance from CeCe Peniston and Lori Williams, Euge Groove on sax and Ragan Whiteside on flute.

Bob Baldwin
Bob Baldwin (Courtesy photo)

The album offers 10 Beatles originals (one recorded twice, with a remix version) and a Baldwin original.

“I grew up with all kinds of music,” Baldwin said. My dad had jazz, [my] sister, R&B, soul. I liked what The Beatles did with their compositions and the songs were happy. They played guitars, bass and drums with no keyboard.”

So on “Abby Road and The Beatles” Baldwin selected 10 originals from the band members and put his keyboard and jazz twist to the worldwide hits. He includes his own original “Abbey Road” featuring Williams as the cherry on the Beatle cake.

“I am known for taking original harmonies and putting my own flavor,” said Baldwin, whose past projects have honored Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. “I keep the melody intact. It’s always a challenge [in] not really changing it … taking it to another point.”

Baldwin, celebrating 30 years in the business, served as the album’s executive producer along with and Bob Frank. It also features assistance from Tony Lewis on drums, Dave Anderson on bass and Dennis Johnson and Café’ Da Silva on percussion.

“The Beatles were embraced in America and around the world,” Baldwin said of why he honored the popular band from Liverpool. “I tried to pick like 10 songs that felt good on piano.”

I love The Beatles like everyone else and know most of their songs, so keeping the melodies are important to me, too. My favorites on “Abby Road and The Beatles” include John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “And I Love Her (Real Talk)” because Baldwin’s sweet keyboard playing maintains the original melody to perfection; John Lennon’s “Imagine” featuring Euge Groove on sax because of its simplicity; John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “Michelle (My Girl)” featuring Ragan Whiteside on flute because I love the way Baldwin’s keys are popping; George Harrison’s “Something (In the Way She Moves) because Baldwin’s sweet key playing keeps the melody and I love the jazz flavor he brings to it; Paul and Linda McCartney’s “My Love” featuring Williams because Baldwin again brings simplicity to the hit while honoring them to the utmost, and #10 John Lennon’s “Yesterday” because of how Baldwin jazzes it up.

Moseley has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with her “The Pulse of Entertainment” column.

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