|If You See Kay
One of the most forthright, declamatory tenor sax voices in the business.
London’s Evening Standard
Groove CD Features Funk and Organ Sound
Of Jackson’s Heavyweight Band, Split Second
Javon Jackson excited many music and industry fans with his quick ascent in the ‘90s through his five Blue Note releases, his unique flair for fresh, hybrid sounds and offbeat instrumentation and his professional and stylish presentation of the music. Noted jazz journalist Bob Blumenthal, for one, heralded Jackson at the time, saying he was one of the best young tenor saxophonists to emerge in the last decade.
Now an Assistant Professor of Jazz Education at SUNY Purchase College – where he earned a masters degree in music in 2002 – Jackson has returned to recording, making his debut on Palmetto Records with Easy Does It (June 24, 2003).
Easy Does It is a natural progression of Jackson’s affinity for rhythm & blues and funk music, which was clearly in evidence on his last Blue Note CD, Pleasant Valley. That CD shot to number one on the U.S. jazz radio charts due largely to its hip and modern take on jazz. Jackson’s new CD favors the heavy “grits ‘n gravy” Hammond B-3 organ sound too, which he helped bring into vogue back in the 90s in collaboration with one of its masters, Dr. Lonnie Smith. Jackson has toured and played often with the powerhouse band, Split Second, that grew out of his last recording. Split Second features: Dr. Lonnie Smith (organ); Mark Whitfield (guitar); Fred Wesley (trombone); and Lenny White (drums). All leaders in their own right, they comprise one of the few “supergroups” left in jazz, and enjoy a special youthful appeal.
On Easy Does It, the group marries funk with Marvin Gaye and Harold Melvin while also serving up soulful jazz originals. The CD opens with Smith’s contribution on “If (You See Kay)” and heads into a bleating horn from Jackson on Marvin Gaye’s “Right On.” Wesley adds his voice to his composition, “House Party,” and at this point, the CD kicks up the feel-good party vibe courtesy of the former James Brown trombonist. Jackson’s first composition on the CD, “Papa Lou,” in homage to one of his inspirations, Lou Donaldson, is an easy-going musical stroll. Jackson offers “Kiss”
next, on which Smith and Whitfield keep the old-school funk rhythm alive while Jackson and Wesley slide all over it with the horns. Whitfield’s notable strumming takes us into “Diane,” a lovely ballad from Jackson, which is followed by his take on Whitehead and McFadden’s tune, “Wake Up Everybody,” made famous by Harold Melvin. Eve Cornelious, who sang on the earlier “House Party” track, is featured on the soul anthem. Jackson continues with the laid-back blues groove of the title track and then ends the party with White’s propulsive drums forming the foundation for each member of Split Second to have his say.