10

Sidney Jacobs: First Man

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Call this R&B-inflected jazz, jazz-informed soul, or soul-soaked singer-songwriter fare with a chaser of standards and surprises. You can take your pick, as all of those descriptors are basically on the money. But it doesn't really matter how you tag this. It's fine music by any name.

Sidney Jacobs' second album, following the under-the-radar Been So Long (Self Produced, 2013), puts this vocalist's fantastically fervent pipes in the proper light. His sound evokes shades of his earliest inspiration—the late Al Jarreau—but he's developed his own voice that's beholden to no single source or influence. Whether joyfully crooning atop his own creations, visiting the music of Richard Rodgers, or dipping into hip-hop or vintage soul, Jacobs manages to put his own firm stamp and personality on this material.

As a trained psychologist, Jacobs knows a thing or two about communicating, listening, and digging into the human psyche, all of which is evident in the way he expresses himself throughout this date. "First Man"—a theoretical acknowledgement that we all come from the same place if we go back far enough—makes that clear early on. The African undercurrent in the piece, embodied by Jacobs' wordless vocals and Justin Thomas ' mbira-like marimba work, serves as a backdrop for Jacobs' passionate presentation. It's the first of many originals in the set, but one that stays with you for the duration.

The singer's penchant for jazz waltzes underscores several of the selections that follow—"Last Night," an alternately foreboding and friendly take on the familiar "My Favorite Things," the Burt Bacharach-esque "Say What You Will"—and a seemingly odd yet complementary collection of covers enriches the mix. Bill Withers' "Lonely Town, Lonely Street" is right in Jacobs' wheelhouse, Kendrick Lamar's "You Ain't Got To Lie" retains its innate slickness while also moving into a more organic realm, "The Good Life" succeeds with a wonderfully spare arrangement that leans on bassist Zephyr Avalon, and James Taylor's "Secret O' Life" ends the album on an intimate note, with nothing but Josh Nelson's piano and Jacobs' voice in the picture.

Through First Man, Sidney Jacobs manages to present as a confident musical force while also highlighting the confessional aspects of his artistry and personality. He's got a lot to say and he says it in with grace, strength, compassion, and pride. Getting to know this man and his music is time well spent.

Track Listing: 1. First 0:12 2. First Man 5:38 3. Last Night 4:58 4. Undercurrent 0:15 5. My Favorite Things 3:50 6. Sabine’s Grind 6:19 7. Fly 6:46 8. The Story Teller 0:34 9. Lonely Town Lonely Street 6:07 10. Say What You Will 4:47 11. You Ain’t Gotta Lie 4:02 12. The Good Life 4:56 13. The Love Within You 6:30 14. Long Walk 5:12 15. Secret O’ Life 5:19

Personnel: Sidney Jacobs vocals Zephyr Avalon acoustic & electric bass Michael Jarvey piano, electric piano, viola Josh Johnson alto sax Wendell Kelly trombone Josh Nelson piano Greg Poree acoustic & electric guitar Nolan Shaheed trumpet Justin Thomas vibraphone, marimba Cathy Segal-Garcia backing vocal Francesco Canas violin

Title: First Man | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Baby Chubs Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Door Girl CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Incidentals CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "A Meeting Of Spirits" CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Supreme" CD/LP/Track Review Supreme
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Danse" CD/LP/Track Review Danse
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Stolen Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties" CD/LP/Track Review The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.