Javon Jackson

Easy Does It

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Even though this solid soul-jazz tenor player has five previous well received solo discs on Blue Note -- the last of which, Pleasant Valley, shot up to #1 on the jazz airplay charts -- Javon Jackson is still best known for his notable contributions to the music of a wide range of jazz superstars like Elvin Jones, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton and Betty Carter. That spirit of collaboration extends to his emotionally compelling interactions with his own band of all stars, affectionately called Split Second. His Palmetto debut is a funky blues-soul date full of easy swinging, simmering organ-based grooves (courtesy of Dr. Lonnie Smith) and magnificent solo spotlight tradeoffs between Jackson and his better known cohorts, including trombonist Fred Wesley, guitarist Mark Whitfield and drummer Lenny White. While the tunes featuring White's irrepressible, in your face skinning, setting up the groove are the ones that will sell this disc. Jackson shows a more wistful side on "Diane"; a soft romantic duet with Whitfield's light strumming. It's to Jackson's credit that he never lets his guys overshadow him as they create a live-in-the-studio vibe that captures the essence of modern jazz, colorful yet accessible. Eve Cornelious' vocals on the social conscience statement are an effective complement to the band, but Wesley should stick to the trombone instead of doing the talk-sing shtick on the fun but silly "House Party."

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